A brief history of AIPA

The idea of establishing the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (AIPA) emerged soon after the historic transformation of Poland in 1989, which witnessed the fall of communism and the establishment of democracy, with its attendant social and political liberalization. These momentous events inspired the Polish diaspora, generating a new interest and pride in Polish heritage, and the opening of fresh opportunities for furthering relations between Australia and Poland. The traditional role of the Polish diaspora, which had been to strive for Poland’s independence and democracy, came to a natural end. In these changed circumstances many Polish migrants felt that the primary responsibilities of the emigré community should now be re-directed towards the promotion of the newly independent and democratic Poland and the fostering of Polish Australian links.

The foundation meeting of AIPA, headed by Professors Andrew (Andrzej) Ehrenkreutz (key advocate and activist) and Jerzy Zubrzycki (first Chair/President of AIPA) was held in Melbourne on 3 August 1991, when the organization’s primary aims were formulated and its structure discussed. The Institute’s Statutory Rules were subsequently drawn up and adopted by the first Executive Committee (elected on 27 October 1991). AIPA was formally launched by Jan Nowak- Jeziorański in November 1991. The Canberra branch of AIPA was formed on 5 December 1991 and other branches were opened in Sydney, Hobart and Perth. AIPA became an incorporated body on 18 March 1998.

During the 21 years of AIPA’s existence, the Executive Committee has included many prominent Polish Australians, including Prof. Jerzy Zubrzycki (Sociologist and a founder of Australian multiculturalism), Dr Sev Ozdowski (formerly Australian Human Rights Commissioner) Prof. Andrew (Andrzej) Ehrenkreutz (Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Michigan and founder of the North-American Study Center of Polish Affairs), Prof. Martin Krygier (Professor of Law, University of NSW) and Prof. Jan Pakulski (Professor of Sociology, University of Tasmania).

A list of AIPA’s Executive Committees from 1991 to 2001 is published in:

Expanding the Dialogue: Ten Years of the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs, AIPA Inc., [Melbourne], 2001

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