Thursday 3 September 2020

Chairperson's Report 2019-20 - Julie D'Arcy


2019/2020 Chairperson’s Report

AGM September 1st, 2020

I commenced the role as Chairperson in October 2019, and it is with pleasure that I write my first Chairperson’s report.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the past year has been very challenging in many ways for all of us. These unprecedented times have caused many disruptions to the way we live and has impacted on the plans we have for the future. Even with COVID-19 restrictions, the FSFA Executive Committee continue to make plans to promote Japanese culture to the citizens of Frankston and maintain our relationship with the Susono Overseas Friendship Association (SOFA) to ensure it remains as strong as it has always been.

The current FSFA Executive Committee members are Simon Hast (Vice Chairperson), Bev Hannan (Treasurer), Vic Webster, Therese Sakamoto, Sam Warrington, David Cross, Helen Wilson, Adrian Thomas. Ralph and Robyn Halnon have also attended our meetings during the past year. 

In the past year Peter and Margaret Patterson, Bob and Heather Tanner and Chris Hodgson have all decided it’s time to step away from the FSFA Executive Committee.

I would like to thank all committee members, both past and present, for the many contributions you have made to the organisation. Your passion for the organisation and on-going commitment is what makes FSFA such a success. The sister city relationship between Frankston and Susono has been going for over 38 years now, which is a testament to the many people who have been involved.

Our Treasurer Bev Hannan has been maintaining the FSFA accounts for 15 years now, and is the committee’s longest serving member with 33 years of continuous service! Many thanks to Bev for preparing the books and organising them to be audited again this year. It is a huge responsibility and you make it look easy, which we know it isn’t.

Last September we held another successful Japanese Speech Contest for both primary and secondary school students in the Frankston region. The speech contest proved to be very popular once again and was well attended, with over 70 students participating.  Many thanks to all the committee members and judges who gave up their time to assist in making this event so special for the students.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions this year’s speech contest will not be able to take place.

Sadly, other events have also needed to be cancelled or postponed in 2020. This includes the Japanese Festival which was scheduled to be held on November 29th. A delegation from Susono was to attend, but due to all international travel being disrupted, unfortunately our Japanese friends will not be able to visit us this year.

At this time of the year we are usually busy welcoming students and teachers from Susono who would be hosted by family and friends at Derinya Primary School. This exchange is a yearly event between schools in Susono and Derinya. The return visit of Derinya students to Susono led by Therese Sakamoto has also been cancelled. These delegations of students have been a shining example of the bond between the two cities. We can’t wait to see this program recommence!

Even though travel plans have been put on hold between the two sister cities, the Executive Committee continue to plan for the future. Thanks to David Cross (Executive Committee Member), the committee are still able to meet monthly, as scheduled. David organises the committee members to attend the meeting via ZOOM which has been both innovative and successful.

Simon Hast’s amazing work promoting our Association via social media (Facebook), the FSFA website and the publishing of our monthly bulletin is invaluable. Simon took over the task of publishing the bulletin from Bob Tanner earlier this year. Thanks to Bob for all of the contributions he made while on the Committee. Thanks is also due to Jess Hast for all her assistance with the FSFA website over the years, and to Simon for maintaining content on the site, including many photos, articles of interest, and our bulletins. Social media and the website have proven an important platform to staying connected with past and present members of our Association as well as sharing with the community all things Japanese!

Last November Simon Hast represented FSFA and presented at a Sister Cities Australia (SCA) Executive meeting. Simon demonstrated the use of virtual reality (VR) and how it was utilised to show the citizens of Susono what Frankston is like at the Australian Fair held in Susono in September 2018. The attendees of the SCA meeting were very impressed to see that so much effort had gone into this project for our sister city friends in Japan.

During December we held our Christmas break-up function in my home and celebrated a very successful year of events and achievements. We also presented Peter and Margaret Patterson with a number of gifts to acknowledge the many years of wonderful service they have given to our Association.

In February 2020, Therese Sakamoto and Simon Hast, along with Sandra Mayer (Mayor of Frankston), and Councillor Colin Hampton (Deputy Mayor of Frankston) attended a party at the Japanese Consul-General’s residence in Toorak to celebrate Emperor Naruhito’s 60th birthday. Therese and Simon had a wonderful experience representing FSFA.

Whilst only two committee members were able to attend the Emperor’s birthday celebration, all of the committee members, past and present were invited to attend our annual Hanami Party held in the Japanese garden at Frankston High School (FHS) in October 2019. The party was well attended by past and present committee members and Japanese friends who reside in the Frankston area.

FSFA has been very fortunate to have had a good relationship with FHS. Thanks to Helen Wilson (FHS Senior Campus Principal and Executive Committee Member) and John Albiston (FHS Principal) for supporting all of the events FSFA has held at FHS over the years. Holding functions at FHS allows for the opportunity for the attendees to appreciate our beautiful Japanese garden which the committee maintains under the watchful eye of Simon Hast. It’s with great pride that Simon continues to nurture the garden. Thanks to Adrian Thomas (Executive Committee member) and Ralph Halnon for your assistance in the garden, and Vic Webster, Bev and Helen for providing the refreshments at the working bees which are held throughout the year. Thank you, Simon, for ensuring the garden is so well maintained. It always looks immaculate at our functions and it is a credit to you. Recently, both entrance gates to the garden were replaced and we thank Helen Wilson, FHS Business Manager Carolyn Florance and maintenance staff Dale and Adam for their great work – the gates look fantastic!

We all came together once again in the Japanese garden on Sunday 23rd February earlier this year to celebrate the 38th anniversary of our sister city relationship. On the 22nd February 1982, our sister city relationship was formed with Susono, with ceremonies held in both cities to mark the occasion.

Our anniversary celebrations were well attended by past and present members of the Association and their families. Frankston Mayor, Sandra Mayer also attended and gave a speech thanking the Executive Committee (past and present) for all their hard work and dedication, and stated that this was the reason the bond remains so strong between the two cities after all these years.

At the anniversary party, Mayor Mayer assisted with awarding FSFA Life Memberships to Peter and Margaret Patterson and Bev Hannan. Bev was acknowledged for all of her efforts put towards the organisation. As previously mentioned, she is the longest serving member on the committee and has been to Susono numerous times.

Peter (recently retired FSFA Chairperson) was recognised for his inspiring leadership, innovation and significant contributions as the FSFA Chairperson over many years. Margaret was acknowledged for all of her hard work, support and contributions she has given to the Association. Collectively, Peter and Margaret have been involved with the association for over 40 years. Congratulations to you all as very worthy recipients!

Frankston City Council continues to support the Executive Committee in promoting and bringing cultural experiences to the community. We acknowledge the financial support which assists with funding events such as the Japanese Festival, Japanese Speech Contest, Susono Schools Visit and hosting delegations from Susono.

A special thanks to Michelle Tipton and Sharon Lozsan from Frankston Council who attend the FSFA committee meetings, take and document our minutes and provide a range of administrative support. These ladies took over this role in 2019 from Chris Hodgins. Chris decided to step down from this role after many years of attending FSFA Committee meetings each month. We thank Chris for all of the valuable contributions she has made to the Association and wish her well for the future.

The Executive Committee remains dedicated and committed to the relationship with SOFA and its longevity, especially in these trying times. Executive Committee members Therese Sakamoto and Sam Warrington are maintaining communications with SOFA members on our behalf. Over the years, many friendships have formed between the two cities and the COVID restrictions have placed increased importance on checking in on our Japanese friends.

The Executive Committee are looking forward to confirming plans and holding events in the future to continue promoting Japanese culture in our community - once COVID restrictions are relaxed!

I have been invited to give a presentation to Frankston Rotary Club on FSFA, including how the Association came about and how we promote Japanese culture in the Frankston and wider community. I look forward to sharing some of my personal experiences with the Rotarians, along with promoting the great work the Executive Committee achieve year after year.

Hopefully by 18th October 2020 we will be able to meet face to face again and gather together for our annual Hanami party in the Japanese garden at FHS, to celebrate under our cherry blossom.

Once again, thank you to all of the Executive Committee members. You are all wonderful, and together make the team what it is. Last year the Executive Committee agreed to allocate tasks to share the responsibilities which has been successful. Please remember that it’s because of you all that the Sister City relationship with Susono remains so strong, especially in such unprecedented times.

Best wishes, health and happiness to you all!

Julie D’Arcy

FSFA Chairperson