Wednesday 1 October 1986

Chairman's Report 1985/86 - Noel Ferguson

The Association's year began with a Dinner Dance in August 1985 to raise funds for the Japanese Garden at the Civic Centre. It was also intended at the function to launch a raffle for the same purpose, but difficulty was being experienced obtaining confirmation from Qantas for the prizes. The raffle subsequently got off the ground early in 1986 and was drawn in March, raising between the raffle and the dance, approximately $1,900.00.

A most significant event was Frankston Council's decision in October 1985 to contribute $30,000 from its loan funds for 1985/86 to the Japanese Garden. Progress towards the design of the garden was slow, actually non-existent until after contacting Mr. Kitaoji at the Japan Seminar House in Vermont who referred us to a Landscape Architect Mr. Harry Lucy of Carlton. Mr. Lucy was temporarily employing a Japanese Architect Mr. Harada, a person with high credentials. In the design of authentic Japanese Gardens and they agreed to prepare some concept plans. These plans have recently been considered by the Executive of F.S.F.A., who resolved to commend them to Frankston Council for acceptance and adoption. The full cost of the proposal is approximately $50,000 and your Executive also decided it would undertake to seek corporate sponsorship for the difference between the $32,000 now available and the aforementioned cost of $50,000.

Student Exchange

Lara Thomas and Simone Young successfully completed their year in Susono, returning in January this year, while Satomi Katsumata and Akemi Hada flew back to Japan in February. Three girls were the successful candidates for 1986 and they flew to Japan with Satomi and Akemi. News from the girls Donna Saville, Therese Hannan (from Toorak College) and Karel Wilson (Mt. Eliza High School) is that they are well settled in and making the most of the wonderful opportunity afforded them. Meanwhile Osamu Sugiyama and Yuko Onada are the students chosen in Susono who arrived in March this year and are attending St. Pauls Woodleigh and Mt. Eliza High School respectively. These two students will be in attendance at our Annual Meeting and we will hear of their experiences to date in Australia.

A large debt is owed by our Association to the counsellors who oversee and co-ordinate the students in their stay here. Diane Seeber stepped in August last year with Satomi while Des Dean was overseas, and with some problems of assimilation encountered with Satomi, had a trying time. Diane worked hard on the problem and did an outstanding job, continuing until Satomi returned home. David Smith was Akemi's counsellor, from observations a less onerous task than Diane's and both have continued in this role with our present students Osamu and Yuko. The preparation of the three girls now in Japan was in their hands and a number of meetings ensured the girls were aware of what lay ahead of them.

Similarly, a large expression of thanks is due to families who have undertaken to act as hosts, usually for three months, for the visiting Japanese students. This disruption to normal family life clearly poses difficulties, but all who have been involved have coped with the added responsibility and most appear to enjoy the experience, forming friendships which will last for many years.

In retrospect, these last twelve months have been disappointing in terms of involvement by our general membership. My observation is that in the absence of a touring party to go to Japan or a visit from a contingent from Susono, there has been a lack of initiative from our group as a whole. Members of your Executive have had a lot on their plate but the activity and involvement has been confined to a very small proportion of the whole membership. Those involved in selecting and preparing the students and acting as counsellors have heavy demands on them and have little time for organising other activities. I highlight this point firstly to acknowledge what little has gone on over the last year and to suggest to members that, if it is their wish, this will continue as the level of activity unless either of the Associations (F.S.F.A. or S.O.F.A.) members undertake visits on a large scale. Des Dean and Graham Hoult ran some interesting nights on a variety of Japanese related activities two years ago and perhaps similar initiatives from within the ranks of the membership could be organised for the stimulation and interest of all involved.

The proceeding with the construction of the Japanese Garden will be an event to look forward to and a suitable testament to the excellent relationship that exists between Frankston and Susono. This will draw a lot of public attention and possibly act as a catalyst to more interest in our sister city link.

Finally, thank you to all members of the Executive for their continuing efforts on behalf of F.S.F.A. and especially to the Council and its Chief Executive Officer Adrian Butler and his staff for the administrative resource they provide.