General News

What is the Estonian Cultural Foundation in Australia (ECFA)?

The Estonian Relief Committee (ERC) was formed in 1945 at the end of WWII to help Estonian refugees in war-torn Europe. Initially it provided parcels of food and clothing but later branched out into arranging landing permits for people to come to Australia and providing financial help when needed.

The ERC raised funds by organising formal balls and having an annual fundraising drive.

In the 1950s it was decided to build a retirement village. The ERC bought land in Thirlmere where there was an active Estonian community. Funds raised by the ERC were matched by the government. The village was opened in 1967 and continued to grow and prosper over many years.

Unfortunately high costs, problems with funding and changes in government regulations made running the village by volunteers increasingly difficult and in 2012 the ERC sold the village to RSL life.

With those funds and later monies from the sale of the Estonian House in Thirlmere, the ERC looked to the future. To fit the new goals of the organisation the ERC changed its name to the Estonian Cultural Foundation in Australia (ECFA). Membership is open to all Australian citizens who support the objects of the Foundation.

The ECFA supports Estonian cultural activities nationwide. The grants are advertised annually, usually in May, and close in June. Both organisations and individuals are welcome to apply for the grants. Over the last three years, the ECFA has funded activities totalling over $50,000.
2022 – $17,550
2021 – $20,250
2020 – $17,652

Nationwide the Foundation has supported organisations including the:

  • Childrens’ summer camp “Sõrve”
  • Hans Ots Award for subsidising costs of attending Sõrve for children living outside Sydney
  • Estonian Archives in Australia
  • Choir “Kooskõlas
  • Estonian Festivals
  • AESL book and DVD “Estonians in Australia 100 years” which was a gift from the Estonian community in Australia to Estonia on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of independence
  • Australian Estonian newspaper “Meie Kodu”

The Foundation has in recent years supported the following organisations across Australia:


  • Sydney Estonian House Co-operative Society
  • Folkdancers “Virmalised”
  • the SES Handicrafts Association
  • Singing ensemble “Lõke”
  • Estonian Children’s Playgroup (Sydney Mudilasring)
  • Sydney Estonian Parents’ and Friends’ Association – ‘Sõrve Sõbrad’


  • The choir “Hapukoor”


  • Brisbane Playgroup

The ECFA has also supported individual projects such as:

  • Virge Nielsen organising the “Baltic Artists in Australia – Celebrating 100 Years” , a retrospective group exhibition of artists living and working in Australia, with origins from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the NSW House of Parliament
  • Tiina Alvre digitising SES records
  • Aksel Haagensen’s production of a documentary film regarding Estonian refugees in Australia

The ECFA supports language, dance, music, handicraft, art, literature and history but does not fund commercial activities or personal salaries. We welcome submissions from all over Australia that support the aims to facilitate the promotion of Estonian culture in Australia.

Grant applications will be opening shortly. An announcement will be made on our website, on and various Estonian Social Media groups

For more details on the Estonian Cultural Foundation in Australia, including membership and grant information, please visit our website at

By Kristi Barrow

Loves all things Estonian. Especially Crafters Elderflower gin. Aussie born.