Dnister continued its long tradition of support for the local Ukrainian Community though its role as a Major Sponsor of “Ukraine and the World: Culture, Politics and Society”. The conference was organised by the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University jointly with the Ukrainian Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand (USAANZ) and the Shevchenko Scientific Society and was held at the Sir Louis Matheson Library at Monash University, Clayton Campus over the three days of July 12 – 14, 2018.
Attendees had the privilege of hearing a range of speakers from Australian, Ukrainian, Canadian, American and Italian Universities, libraries and community as well as His Excellency Mykola Kulinich, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia and a senior representative from The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Prof Marko Pavlyshyn, Director of the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian studies at Monash University and a key member of the organising committee proudly noted at the end of the conference:
The “Ukraine and the World” conference addressed a broad spectrum of topics. Several papers dealt with matters affecting Ukraine today: shifts in Ukrainian national and linguistic identity, Ukraine’s relationship with the EU, the politics of religion and of memory in Ukraine and issues in Ukrainian higher education. Some presenters considered aspects of literature and culture, both historical and contemporary. A full day dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Australia hosted discussions of Ukrainian diaspora heritage and the social challenges confronting Ukrainian migrants. Papers were of high quality and generated intense interest in an audience comprising both academic researchers and informed members of the general public.
The conference owes a great debt to its principal supporters, Victor and Maria Rudewych, and to its major sponsors – the Monash University Library, Dnister Ukrainian Credit Co-operative, the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia and the Ukrainian Studies Foundation in Australia.
Dr David Hassett, Chair of Dnister, had the privilege of chairing a session on the Australian migrant experience on the last morning of the conference. The presentations, and the discussion and questions those presentations generated, highlighted that the founders of the post-war Ukrainian communities in Australia faced enormous challenges in establishing themselves in a new country but overcame them all to build strong, culturally rich and aware communities wherever they settled.
Their efforts in building these communities included establishing organisations such as Dnister. From its establishment in 1951 as ‘Self-Reliance’ in Melbourne, its formal registration as a financial services organisation under the Dnister name in 1959, and through subsequent mergers with Ukrainian Credit Unions from other states and more recently with the Latvian Australia Credit Cooperative, Dnister now provides financial services to more than 8,100 members around Australia and manages assets valued at more than $170 million on their behalf.
As well as providing its members with a wide range of attractive, competitively priced products, in the last 15 years alone, Dnister has provided support of more than $3.5 million directly to its members, in rebated and reduced fees, and indirectly to the communities of those members such as its sponsorship of this conference.