Meta Lenarčič of Melbourne on her work at 3ZZZ

When did you arrive in Australia? Why did you leave Slovenia?

My name is Margareta –Metka Lap-Lenarčič, I am from  Posavec in Gorenjska. After I finished high school in Radovljica I started working in Kranj in 'Iskra'. I finished technical college and became a draftswoman. Five years later my department moved to Ljubljana, to the tobacco factory. It was not possible for me to travel to Ljubljana every day or to leave my home village. An opportunity came my way, I got a permit to spend two years in Australia. As you can see, after all these years I am still here. I arrived in Sydney, Australia, in 1963 onboard a ship called 'Roma'. In Sydney I met Peter Lenarcic and two years later we moved to Melbourne.

In what ways have you participated in the community life?

 As all other young people we were quick to meet other Slovenians. In 1968 my husband and I started to look for a house and a year later we were able to buy one. We had two daughters: Michelle was born in 1966 and Wendy in 1971. Worries, work, kindergartens, schools. Our company were mainly our friends who lived nearby. Among them were also Slovenians. Soon we were invited to join Planica Club which was on this side of Melbourne. My husband and I joined this club which was the closest to our home in 1978. In 1980 we started a club newsletter 'Novice Bulletin - Planica'. Every issue was typed by me. I also added pictures and edited it and have remained the newsletter editor to this day. We have published 116 issues since 1980. My aim was to record events, parties, meetings, visits from other associations and Slovenia, sports events such as bocce, hunting, chess. We also had a school and a folk dancing group for adults; I taught folk dances for five years and then this knowledge was passed on to the younger generation and they continued for another ten years. I worked as a club secretary, one year  as its president, and did so many other things.  

Please tell us more about your work as s a Slovenian radio broadcaster on 3ZZZ.

All this work just grew and progressed. Somebody suggested that I offer some help on the radio with reports on events in Slovenian organisations. Again I agreed thinking it was just temporary. This is how it started. Eventually some people resigned, even the convenor resigned and I was offered his job. I started in 1991 and in 1994 I became the convenor which is what I still do. Our work at 3ZZZ is the labour of love. After all these years I have nothing to show, this is just our love for the homeland, the Slovenian language and music. It has been 23 years since I started and 20 years since I became the editor. Some work is split between the secretary, the treasurer and two or three board members. There are annual meetings, fundraising once a year, annual barbeque for our maintenance, stationary, transport, music. The weekly one-hour program includes news from Slovenia, announcements from organisations, phone interviews with our guests from the Slovenian community, radio birthday cards. We cooperate with two radio stations in Slovenia, with Radio Ognjisce for the last12 years, and with Radio Potepuh Bled for seven years. Our one-hour program is one among 69 ethnic programs. It is attractive to our listeners for its information and entertainment contents. We do everything ourselves, including looking after the technical side. 

As a former president of Slovenian Club Planica in Melbourne, do you feel that Slovenian organisations with buildings and grounds still have a place in the community life?

There have been considerable changes in the Slovenian community. At first we were building, physically: brick by brick at 40 degrees. Women were cooking while only five minute drive away the ocean was beckoning. Instead of taking a break at the end of the week we worked instead. Today all this is behind us. Young people have grown up and hardly ever come to clubs and associations, million-dollar buildings are mainly closed. We only celebrate special occasions, like New Year's Eve, 'Pust', Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 'Dan mrtvih' on 1 November and 'Miklavzevanje'. The way of life has changed completely. When we had a party then, three to four hundred fellow Slovenians attended, we started at 7.30 pm and finished at 1.30 am. These event are now just distant memories. These days we get around two hundred members and friends who arrive at midday to have lunch and by 6 pm it is all over. Memories and good will are still alive, everything else is drying up. It won't be long before we have to close everything down or pass it on to younger hands. It is sad, but that's how it is.

How would you like to see the Slovenian community in Australia develop in the future?

This is the hardest question ever! What we would like and what our youth can offer us? These were our dreams which will never come true. And we are supposed to build on the past? Let me just mention year 2010-11 when I was the president of Planica Club. Two progressive and very capable men in their work from the second generation joined the committee. We started off well but suddenly they, especially one,  ran out of enthusiasm and will to continue. It was all insufficient, too slow, too much following the old ways. Well, tell us what you want to do. The way we worked can't even be compared to how the younger generations work today. What does this mean... while we are around, things are like this, but afterward??? There is no future in this. And it is all the same in all organisations.

Do you have any suggestions as to what the Slovenian formal and/or informal groups in Australia could do to reach wider audiences?

This questions is an unknown for all of us! New migrants from Slovenia... I don't know if there will ever be the time to at least come together and ask, how are you? Where are you? Is there anything we can help with, suggest or contribute for your well-being considering you created so much; can we continue for you and your youth? There is no such thing from the newcomers and I don't think there ever will be! This is Slovenia today! We built with our hands, young people studied and now they should take over from here for their own sake. This is how they could show love and respect for the Slovenian community on this fifth continent of Australia.

Melita Brežnik on her studies and new life in Southern hemisphere

You arrived in Australia only recently. First of all, why did you decide to leave Slovenia and what guided you in your decision to move to Australia?

I arrived in Australia in 2009, first to travel and explore but quite soon I realized I really liked it here and did not mind staying longer. I haven't planned moving to Australia at the start but the longer I stayed the more I liked it. And the only way to stay longer was studying.
Slovenia at this point is not a very promising country for a young person who is seeking opportunities. And in my case I really wanted to experience living in a different country and therefore learn more.

How did you find living in Melbourne where you completed your masters degree in International Community Development?

I liked Melbourne since I first arrived in Australia. It is a great place to study, meet people from all walks of life and engage in several activities it has to offer. What I like about it the most is its cultural diversity which gives Melbourne that great lively atmosphere, from world cuisine, several festivals, arts scene to alternative ways of living, etc. 

You came to Australia with a law degree from Slovenia. In what ways is studying in Australia different from studying in Slovenia?

Talking only about law, it is very different due to different legal systems in Slovenia/EU and Commonwealth countries. However, there are differences in education systems in general. I think studies in Slovenia are more rigid and do not encourage ''thinking outside of the box'', meanwhile in Australia they seem to be more flexible and creative. Of course, it all depends on what you study but in a very generalized overview I would say that the Australian education system is friendlier to the student than Slovenian.

How did you support yourself during your studies?

As an international student in Australia I was entitled to work for 20 hours per week. I worked in several student jobs, one of them was working at the Victoria University as a student mentor, helping students with their queries around the library and other university facilities.  

Why did you recently move to New Zealand and how do you find living in New Zealand different from living in Slovenia and Australia?

I have finished my studies in Melbourne and my student visa there has expired. For that and for personal reasons I have just recently moved to New Zealand. I would say New Zealand and Australia are alike in several ways; however, Australia still has more to offer in terms of employment, social life, etc. Standard of living is higher in Australia, therefore many Kiwis look for jobs in Australia. However, New Zealand has some of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen and Kiwis tend to be more connected to nature. It's rare to meet someone who isn't involved with some kind of outdoor activities here on South Island. And it that sense New Zealand is similar to Slovenia. They both are rich in its natural beauty, the mountains, the lakes, diverse landscape.

What is the main advantage of living so far away from home and what is the main disadvantage?

I think living far away from home definitely widens your horizons and gives you a completely different perspective of the world. For me, the personal growth, new experiences and challenges I come across every day give me that 'informal' education that no university can. On the other hand, I also look at my country with different eyes and I appreciate it more for what it is.
The main disadvantage is of course not being able to see my family and friends whenever or as much as I would like. Luckily with all the available technology nowadays we have the ability to stay in touch despite the distance.

How do you view your chances of finding work in New Zealand or Australia and what were your career prospects in Slovenia?

In New Zealand there are smaller chances for work in my field (International Community Development); however, I am always open to opportunities. Just this week I am starting to work on a project with a not-for-profit organisation SAFE that protects the rights of animals, which is another interest and passion of mine. 
I would be interested in living and working in Australia in the future if the opportunity arose.
I left Slovenia after my graduation and haven't planned my career there. Knowing that quite a number of my colleagues there are looking for work, I don't see a bright future in terms of career opportunities there. Sadly, I also know of a number of people looking for work overseas because of the current crisis in Slovenia. 

Do you know any fellow Slovenians in Australia and New Zealand? If yes, how did you find them?

Being new to New Zealand, I have not meet any Slovenians yet. But in Australia, I did meet them, of course. I volunteered as a broadcaster on 3ZZZ, Ethnic Community Radio in Melbourne since 2010 and have had an opportunity to meet with the Slovenian community, mostly the first generation. That is also how I met our former honorary consul general Mr. Alfred Breznik with whom we share the same surname. And we quickly realized that our ancestors come from the same village!  

What are your plans for the future? 

I am open to different opportunities; however, I would like to use my knowledge from my recently finished studies and work in international community development. Be it in grass roots organisations in developing countries or in Australia.
I am also contemplating options of further studying, PhD, looking at the subject of mediation in a multicultural society (Australia). 

Slovenia ranked 55 out of 60 on 2014 World Competitiveness Yearbook Ranking

IMD yesterday announced its annual World Competitiveness Yearbook Ranking for 2014. In assessing the competitiveness of a country, Switzerland based IMD looks at how well countries manage their resources and competencies to increase their prosperity. The rankings are based on over 300 criteria and on an exclusive IMD survey of 4300 international executives.

In IMD 2014 World Competitiveness Yearbook Ranking, Slovenia is ranked 55 among 60 economies. It has lost three places since 2013 and leaves only Bulgaria, Greece, Argentina, Croatia and Venezuela behind. Among other countries of interest, Estonia is ranked 30, Kazakhstan 32, Czech Republic 33, Lithuania 34, Latvia 35, Slovak Republic 45, Romania 47 and Hungary 48. Interestingly, international executives' perceptions of Slovenia as a place to do business are not quite as gloomy as the overall rankings and place the country in 45th position.

The top three positions are taken by the USA, Switzerland and Singapore; Australia is in 17th place.

Ambassador Dr Balazic recalled

Mr Karl Erjavec, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, today announced that he will recall Dr  Balazic. In his statement Mr Erjavec said that Dr Balazic misled him regarding the depth and frequency of his contacts with Mr Nicholas Oman.

Ambassador Dr Balazic is no longer welcome in the Slovenian community in Australia. Minister Erjavec underlined, however, that good relations with the Slovenian community in Australia are very important to the Slovenian government.

Minister Erjavec has already informed Mr Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, of his proposal to recall Dr Balazic.  According to Mr Erjavec, the President is in agreement with his decision.

Update (23/05/2014): The decision of Dr Balazic's recall is expected to come into force on 31 July 2014. On 22 May 2014 the government confirmed the recall and sent the proposal to dismiss Dr Balazic to the President for his approval.
Update (09/06/2014): President of the Republic of Slovenia Mr Borut Pahor signed the decision to recall Dr Balazic.

Majniška deklaracija 2014 - May Declaration 2014

8 May 2014
There comes a time when there is no more time for hesitation 

Almost one hundred years since the first May Declaration in 1917 and a quarter of a century since the second in 1989, Slovenians are experiencing new misunderstandings, provocations and open acts of hostility.  Groups and political patterns against which we rebelled in the period of Slovenian spring and independence have again started to operate from the background . We have become stuck in the transition to open and democratic society. This opens the question whether we are capable to efficiently manage our country. The international environment, especially to the East, is uncertain. Decades since the end of cold war, spent and outdated populist and totalitarian ideas have returned into our European region.

We are witnessing:
- economic struggling of hundreds of thousands of citizens;
- emigration of young and able people who see no future for themselves in Slovenia;
- inability of the government to solve economic and social problems;
- ever new taxes and senseless borrowing on account of the current and future generations;
- insensitivity of authorities who often make decisions with no feeling or empathy for the rights of citizens with no connections;
- deterioration in education and health care;
- political use of law enforcement institutions, mainly judiciary, against those who think differently;
- media lynches;
- spreading ignorance regarding spirituality and culture;
- contempt for the values of Slovenia's independence and civil and national awareness;
- loss of respect for Slovenia on the international stage.

Slovenians are capable to work differently and more. This obliges us to clearly express our will from which subsequent actions will follow in the future. There comes a time when there is no more time for hesitation.

We who sign this document declare that:

We want to live in a sovereign, democratic and economically successful state of the Slovenian nation in the European Union and NATO that:
- is based on respect for human dignity, human rights and freedoms and the rule of law;
- respects life, supports family, motherhood and fatherhood and ensures that young people can find themselves in it;
- is open to the search for the truth in history, cleansed of remnants of the totalitarian regime, committed to reconciliation, mutual understanding and cooperation;
- bases promotion in the workplace on measurable performance;
- promotes unbiased media reporting that respects facts which can be expressed through different cultural and ideological orientations;
- has a transparent voting system that allows for political stability and responsibility.

We want to live in a country which Slovenians and citizens living at home and abroad recognise as our home and our homeland.

You can sign Majniska deklaracija 2014 here:
or here:

REMINDER - Essay and Lego Competition

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Slovenian Association  Melbourne, the Association and Draga Gelt invite Slovenians of all ages and convictions to participate in the Essay and Lego Competition

The deadline has been moved to 23 May 2014.

Letter to the President of RS Mr Borut Pahor

On Friday, 9 May, Australian Slovenians sent a letter to the President of Republic of Slovenia Mr Borut Pahor in which they asked him to intervene and resolve the deepening rift between the Ambassador and the Slovenian community in Australia due to controversial events at the opening of the new Consulate in Melbourne by recalling Dr Milan Balazic.

Choose to vote in Elections to the European Parliament 2014

Slovenians will go to the polls on 25 May to elect 8 Members of the European Parliament (of 751) who will represent your interests in the EU for the next five years.

Some among us have already received materials to vote by mail, others are still waiting.

Your package includes: 
  • URADNA PRAZNA GLASOVNICA - this is your ballot paper;
  • Envelope marked 'ZA GLASOVNICO' - for your completed ballot paper;
  • Paper with your personal details ('VOLILNA KARTA');
  • Second envelope addressed to Drzavna volilna komisija.


1. Fill in the ballot paper ('URADNA PRAZNA GLASOVNICA')

In the right-hand box enter the name of your preferred party.
If you wish, you can enter in the left-hand box the name of your preferred candidate from the chosen party.

You can can choose among the following parties and their candidates (the list was not supplied but can be downloaded from Drzavna volilna komisija website):

- Jelko Kacin, Polona Sagadin, Dorijan Maršič, Faila Pašić Bišić, Andrej Lavtar, Tatjana Greif, Jure Pucko, Sara Karba


- Senko Pličanić, Polonca Kromar, Marko Pavlišič, Vesna Alaber, Milan Dubravac, Emina Hadžić, Monika Bračika, Miha Istenič

3. ZDRUŽENA LEVICA (European Left)
- Violeta Tomič, Dušan Plut, Luka Mesec, Jasminka Dedić, Janez Požar, Lara Jankovič, Branimir Štrukelj, Petra Rezar

- Zmago Jelinčič Plemeniti, Sergej Čas, Helena Rupar, Alenka Jelenovič, Jos Zalokar, Katarina Langus Šeligo, Jelena Miljković, Folko Puconja

- Igor Šoltes, Katarina Košak, Boštjan Horvat, Mojca Blas, Iztok Prislan, Monja Režonja, Diana Ternav

6. NSi in SLS (EPP)
- Lojze Peterle, Aleš Hojs, Monika Kirbiš Rojs, Neža Pavlič, Vida Čadonič Špelič, Jakob Presečnik, Ljudmila Novak, Franc Bogovič

- Igor Lukšič, Tanja Fajon, Mojca Kleva Kekuš, Anton Bebler, Marinka Vovk, Matevž Frangež, Ljubica Jelušič, Patrick Vlačič

- Milan Zver, Romana Tomc, Patricija Šulin, Anže Logar, Damijan Terpin, Carmen Merčnik, Vlasta Krmelj, Andrej Šircelj

- Bogomil Knavs, Janica Millong, Dušan Egidij Kubot Totislo, Ivica Krajnc, Miha Majc, Simona Drev

- Rolando Benjamin Vaz Ferreira

- Dušan Keber, Marjutka Hafner, Damjan Mandelc, Nataša Osolnik, Tjaša Učakar, Jože Pirjevec, Manca Uršič Rosas, Lenart Zajc

- Vlado Čuš, Barbara Cenčič Krajnc, Martin Gorjanc, Nives Grlj, Marko Mitja Feguš, Tamara Galun, Franc Branko Vivod, Andreja Galinec

- Ivo Vajgl, Marija Pukl, Izidor Salobir, Ingeborg Ivanek, Bojan Bratina, Jana Jenko, Anton Dragan, Marija Kotnik Poropat

- Uroš Uršič, David Breskvar, Barbara Ložar, Boštjan Novak, Kseija Korenjak Kramar, Andreja Korade, Marko Korenjak

- Jože Mencinger, Melita Župevc, Valerija Medic, Jerko Čehovin, Mirjam Bon Klanjšček, Marjan sedmak, Britta Bilač, Peter Vilfan

16. ZARES (Liberals Democrats Party)
- Darja Radić, Andrej Rus, Ivana Gornik, Vito Rožej, Simona Potočnik, Matic Smrekar, Cvetka Ribarič Lasnik, Pavel Gantar

2. Put your completed ballot paper in the envelope marked 'ZA GLASOVNICO'

3. Sign, add the place and date to the paper with your personal details ('VOLILNA KARTA')

4. Put 'VOLILNA KARTA' and the sealed envelope containing your ballot paper in the big envelope addressed to Drzavna volilna komisija

5. Send

You can send the whole package either to Slovenia or to the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Canberra, 26 Akame Circuit O'Malley ACT 2606.

Referendum on access to Slovenian archives on 8 June 2014

Slovenia will hold a referendum on access to its archives on 8 June 2014. Free access to archives is an important feature of democracy.

Please note that if you are a citizen of the Republic of Slovenia who does not reside in Slovenia and are unable to come and vote at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Canberra, you can vote by mail only if you notify Državna volilna komisija by 23 May 2014 that you wish to vote by mail.

You can notify Državna volilna komisija of your intention to vote by filling in the relevant form available here:

The completed form should be sent:
- by mail to: Državna volilna komisija,
Slovenska cesta 54, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenija, or
 - faxed to: 00 386 1 43 31 269, or
 - scanned by email to:

This is how you fill in the form:

What is going on in Slovenia?!?

Ten years since joining the European Union and 23 years since gaining independence, Slovenia has found itself in a strange place:

1. Zoran Janković, the mayor of Ljubljana and the founder of Positivna Slovenija, has recently challenged the prime minister Alenka Bratušek. By winning the vote at the party congress on 25 April he resumed his position as the party president.  As a result, Ms Bratušek resigned from her position as prime minister of Slovenia and the ruling coalition fell apart.

During his campaign for the party presidency, Janković famously stated: "I won't attend the congress only if I am detained which they wouldn't dare to do." Mr Janković is embroiled in a number of investigations regarding alleged acceptance of bribes. 

There are not many democratic countries in the world where politicians are in a position to challenge law enforcers so boldly and openly. To date, Zoran Janković is still the mayor of Ljubljana and the president of Positivna Slovenia.

2. If you ever wondered what the Patria affair with former prime minister Janez Janša at the centre of another politically motivated trial is all about and why the ruling elite in Slovenia is so keen on dismantling the current government and suddenly holding  general elections please watch documentary THE MASK OF DEMOCRACY (partly in Slovenian).

3. These days Slovenia remembers Majniška deklaracija, a political statement drafted by first Slovenian parties opposing the communist regime in 1989.

Majniška deklaracija states: "Misunderstandings, provocations and open hostilities that are today experienced by Slovenians in Yugoslavia convince us that we live at a pivotal time in history and oblige us to clearly express our will that points to subsequent future actions."

"In reference to historic endeavours of the Slovenian nation for political independence, the state of Slovenia can only be based on:
- respect for human rights;
- democracy that includes political pluralism, and 
- social order that ensures spiritual and material welfare in accordance with its natural resources and human capacities of citizens of Slovenia." 

Perhaps it is time to revisit Majniška deklaracija and ask ourselves how it is possible that 25 years later:
- there is still not much respect for human rights in Slovenia;
- democracy has become the victim of power-hungry communists who call themselves anything as long as they can protect their own and their family's privileges and history by locking up Slovenian archives, and
- the current social order has impoverished Slovenia spiritually, morally and materially.

4. From our Australian perspective, the events surrounding the opening of the new Consulate in Melbourne are yet another sign that something is not right in the country of Slovenia. Despite conflicting and offensive statements by Ambassador Balažic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RS refuses to take any measures - not even to conduct a fair inquiry - and insists that Dr Balažic should remain in his position regardless of loud protests from the community in Australia.

Ten years since Slovenia joined the European Union

Last Saturday, on 3 May, the Slovenian community in NSW remembered the 10th anniversary of Slovenia joining the European Union in St. Raphael's Slovenian Mission in Merrylands. Due to non-attendance of diplomatic staff from the Embassy in Canberra, Mr Alfred Breznik, retired Honorary Consul General was the guest speaker invited to mark the occasion. Among other things, he said:

"Today we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of Slovenia joining the European Union. It was actually on the 1st of May 2004, when the fifth and biggest EU enlargement happened. It saw an accession of eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe – which were: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as two Mediterranean countries – Cyprus and Malta. 

For Slovenia this was a historic moment indeed. Our people’s centuries long dream was finally fulfilled. By then, 13 years after achieving independence, that is self rule – a  nationhood, we also became part of a larger European family with population of some 500 million – for which almost 90% of Slovenians voted at the referendum in 2003. At the time other very important milestones were also achieved for our nation - Membership of NATO, which provided a guaranty for security for our nation; adopting EURO currency, which meant common currency with 17 other European nations; joining the Schengen border regime, which meant open border with neighbouring countries – Austria, Italy and Hungary. And, the highlight was undoubtedly Slovenia’s presidency of the European Council, for which numerous commendations were received. 

In the early years of its membership of the EU Slovenia was considered as one of the best, an exemplary member. However, the world wide economic crisis affected Slovenia badly. It has by now dropped to the bottom level of the EU member states which require or will require external financial help. The economic crisis also caused a political crisis, with three governments in the last three years and it appears that we may witness another change of government in the not so distant future. As we’ve seen in the past decades, Slovenians exhibit resilience, with motivation and with initiative will always overcome adversity." 

Historical Archives of Slovenians in Australia NSW celebrate their 10th anniversary

HASA is a volunteer organisation which collects and archives histories of Slovenian migrants and Slovenian organisations in Australia and makes them available to the general public. 

The 10th anniversary of HASA NSW was celebrated in St Raphael's Slovenian Mission Merrylands on Saturday, 3 May, in a very friendly and homely atmosphere.

Migrants who arrived in Australia fifty years ago were invited to add their name to the Golden Book.

Federal Deputy Opposition Leader Ms Tanya Plibersek, a proud Australian of Slovenian background, was invited to sign the Golden Book as a guest of honour.

The archives have been digitised and are now available online. This is a pilot project in co-operation with the Office for Slovenians Abroad, ZRC-SAZU, Slovenian Archives in Slovenia, HASA NSW and Slovenian Media House in Australia. For more information please visit

International Democrat Union concerned about the situation in Slovenia

The Executive Committee of the International Democrat Union, a working association of over 80 Conservative, Christian Democrat and like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right chaired by former Australian Prime Minister Mr John Howard, at its meeting in Madrid 10th and 11th April 2014 expressed concern over the situation in Slovenia, in particular with regard to the judiciary. The IDU Executive adopted unanimously the following resolution:

IDU Statement on Slovenia

The International Democrat Union
- notes with concern the European Commission’s comments on the unsatisfactory nature of Slovenia’s judicial system and the need for further reform;
- re-affirms its belief that a strong, independent judicial system is an essential element of the rule of law and of a democratic society;
- condemns selective justice as an affront to the rule of law;
- resolves to support its Member Party, the Slovenian Democratic Party, and their continuing efforts to strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence in Slovenia and
- calls on the government of Slovenia and other post-communist countries to enact and implement effective lustration laws.