Croats of Australia Celebrate 50 Years of the Australian Croatian Club O’Connor in Canberra

General Zeljko Glasnovic, Independent Member of Croatian Parliament for Croats living outside Croatia cut the celebratory cake in Canberra for the 50th anniversary of the Australian CroatianClub O’Connor
Photo: Eddie Misic

When, in 1979, Mario Despoja, Chargé d’Affaires of the Croatian Embassy in Canberra, raised and founded by the Australian Croatian immigrant community defying Communist Yugoslavia and advocating for an independent Croatia, left the building for the last time, as required by the laws of Australia and Communist Yugoslavia, one thing is for certain: in his heart he took with him the hope and vision of an independent Croatia, and in his hands the Croatian coat of arms and the sign-board with bi-lingual inscription “Hrvatsko Poslantsvo – Croatian Embassy”. On October 19, 2019 in Canberra, Mario Despoja had the honour to address the packed hall of the Australian-Croatian Club O’Connor on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of this club, on whose stage the same Croatian coat of arms, the same inscriptions from the 1970’s Croatian Embassy. “These symbols of Croatian statehood – the coat of arms and the bilingual inscription “Hrvatsko Poslanstvo – Croatian Embassy “- adorned the front of the building at 34 Canberra Avenue in Canberra from November 29, 1977 to October 25, 1979. The symbolic Croatian Embassy was a symbol of Croatian patriotic pride and defiance,” Despoja said at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Australian Croatian Club O’Connor in Canberra. “This club, whose anniversary is celebrated today, has made a huge contribution to the establishment and maintenance of the Embassy. It gave the Embassy consistent and great support, moral and material. I hope Antun Sep, the president of this club, won’t mind if I mention that he was one of my proper bodyguards at the time. Thank you again dear Antun for the important and not so easy duty that you performed at that time. I must emphasise, however, that the Embassy was an all-Croatian undertaking, a joint undertaking of all Croats against a common enemy. Support for the Embassy came from all over Australia, both from individuals and from Croatian associations. It was not only the Embassy of the Canberra and Queanbeyan Croats, not even the Croats of Australia, but also the Embassy of all Croats who emigrated to all the meridians of the whole world. It was, among other things, a symbol of the Croatian community,” he recalled with special pride and strong thanks to all expats of Croatia, and greeted with “Long live eternal Croatia.”

Mario Despoja delivering his speech at the 50th anniversary of Australian Croatian Club O’Connor in Canberra
Photo: Eddie Misic

Australian Croatian Club O’Connor President Antun Sep, in his welcoming speech, highlighted the immense value of the support given to this club, this Croatian House, by almost all Croats of the Australian Capital Territory and across Australia, without which togetherness and today’s Croatian independence would not be possible. Mr Sep thanked especially the office bearers and members of the club’s managing Board (Vice-President Mato Pelivan, Treasurer Ante Sporcic, Secretary Ante Nazor and Board members Frank Boljkovac, Dusko Felding, Domagoj Kraljevic, Jeremy Kresoja, Dominik Matic, Ante Peric, Ivan Peric i Anto Rac) and all the helpers in the kitchen and volunteers whose efforts for the success of this jubilee celebration he described as filled with selfless sacrifice and love for the Homeland and Croatian togetherness.

Antun Sep, President of the AustralianCroatianClub O’Connor giving his speech for the 50th anniversary of australian Croatian Club O’Connor
Photo: Eddie Misic

The head Master of Ceremony (MC) for the celebration, Ina Vukic, particularly emphasised the following: “Tonight, we not only celebrate and congratulate ourselves for having in this far-flung country, Australia, preserved and nourished the hope of independence from communism for our homeland Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but we have also made that hope a reality in state-building efforts and all sacrifices. Everyone in this hall tonight – THANK YOU! Because the idea with which the Croatian people fought, both during the Second World War, in NDH and in the Homeland War of the 1990s, was the idea of ​​independence and self-determination, for the Croatian state and people. To this day, the enemies of Croatian independence, especially former communist operatives, are working at full speed to obliterate the glow of longing for Croatian independence from our and their vocabularies and praises. Instead of our venerable aspirations and struggles for independence, they emphasize their false fabricated history of NDH. They present it as a crime, and they continue with the same thread in many respects for the Homeland War. Yes – they don’t care about Croatia’s independence, in fact they hate it from the bottom of their hearts. However, justice remains on our side, on Croats, and on the walls of many of our clubs there are also symbols in the form of portraits of Croatian national struggle in the twentieth century for Croatian independence – Ante Pavelic and Franjo Tudjman. We will not let anyone convince us that these portraits, these symbols, are anything less, anything else than carrying the significance of the suffering of the Croats in their struggle for independence! The times in which the Croatian people fought for independence were always terrible and perilous because we had to defend our lives and the survival of the Croatian people on their own soil. Yes, there were also evil things that occurred in these struggles, and we recognise that evil and learn to live with it, regretting it but with our heads raised. With our heads raised high because we know that there was much more goodness than bad in the struggles for independence of Croats and Croatia! And it is up to us to point out to the world that good which has existed and exists in abundance. That’s why we’re here tonight. Za dom Spremni/ For Home Ready!”

Masters of Ceremony for the celebration in Canberra of the 50th anniversary of the Australian Croatian Club O’Connor
Photo: Eddie Misic

After Antun Sep, the president of the ACC O’Connor Founding Board, Mr. Nikola Ojvan, presented awards of appreciation and plaques of recognitions that honoured the club’s founders on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, as well as special award and honours to Mr. Mario Despoja, who dedicated his rich and long life to the pledge of independence of Croatian people in both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

General Zeljko Glasnovic, Independent Member of Croatian Parliament for Croats living outside Croatia delivering his speech in Canberra on 19October 2019 at Australian Croatian Club O’Connor celebrations
Photo: Eddie Misic

Addressing the Croatian community of Australia as special guest from Croatian homeland on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ACC O’Connor in Canberra, and at the same time the 50th anniversary of the Croatian emigrant community’s commitment to the independence and self-determination of the Croatian people, General Zeljko Glasnovic, Independent Member of Croatian Parliament for Croats living outside Croatia, among other things, said that “the ties between a unified Croatian being in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croats living outside their Homeland should be strengthened.” He praised the organisers of this jubilee celebration for “the perseverance and sacrifice and assistance they have given all those years and decades for the independent state of Croatia, but also during the Homeland War of the 1990’s.”

MC’s of these jubilee O’Connor 50th Anniversary Celebrations, Ina Vukic from Sydney and Doris Bozin from Canberra, welcomed the representative of the Croatian Embassy to Australia, Mr Mario Stipo Zadro, Deputy to Ambassador Betty Pavelich Sirois, who in turn greeted those present. They greeted many  distinguished guests especially those who came to Canberra from all over Australia to share with Canberra Croats this proud perseverance of maintaining their Croatian identity in Australia. Prominent guests of the evening were the founders of this Canberra club; Mr Marko Franovic from Sydney and Editor-in-Chief of the weekly Domovina Petar Mamic; ACC Geelong Vice President Pejo Maric and ACC Geelong Secretary Franjo Sarcevic, who at the same time presented to the O’Connor club plaques of appreciation and friendship from ACC Melbourne and ACC Geelong. While Father Miroslav Jelic from the Croatian Church of St. Augustine in Canberra led those present in prayer for the Homeland and for this jubilee celebration, the MC’s with special regard welcomed the many present Croatian Homeland War veterans who contributed to the creation od today’s independent Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those youngest Croats in the Croatian community of Canberra, O’Connor club’s Croatian Cultural Association Stepinac folk group “Young Chicken”, with their dancing and Croatian song, skilfully showed that the best proof of the persistence of a Croatian being in the diaspora is how through generations our young people show us that they are truly a part of our Croatian being no matter where they were born or where in the world they live away from the homeland of Croatia and Bosnia and Croatia. Croatian folk group folk “Croatia” from the Croatian Club Deakin in Canberra and “Adults” from the Croatian Cultural Association Stepinac O’Connor were also part of this jubilee ceremony, as were singers from the homeland Kico Slabinac and Sinisa Zunec and the very popular Australian Croatian music group “One Hundred Per Hour” that has been nourishing the Croatian soul in Australia for many years. Ina Vukic

Croatian Folklore group “Croatia” from Canberra performing
Photo: Eddie Misic

Mario Despoja and Ina Vukic

General Zeljko Glasnovic
Photo: Eddie Misic


  1. “Tonight I celebrate and congratulate you he have not only preserved and nurtured many people in this far away country, Australia, but they also have this hope to become a reality in the efforts to build the state and in the right That’s a hopeful message. many learn from it !!! thanks ina.!!!!!!!

  2. Here’s to the next 50
    Huge Hugs

  3. I love your speech, great and amazing words. I enjoy your passion and cause. Keep on rocking on!

    Have a blessed day!

  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.