The Cretan Brotherhood is a community organisation that aims to:
- Foster, preserve and promote Hellenic and Cretan culture and traditions;
- Be a hub for services, support, cultural activity and networking for people of Cretan heritage living in Victoria and their friends;
- Make a positive contribution to the community, including the local community in Moreland the wider Greek community in Melbourne.
The club’s current activities include:
- A Dance Academy in which traditional Cretan dancing is taught to children from as young as 3 years of age up to youth in their twenties. The academy’s dance groups perform in traditional Cretan costume at community festivals, commemorations, functions, schools, aged care centres and the like.
- Annual commemoration of the Battle of Crete. An important event in both Cretan and Australian history. Refer below for more details.
- Regular cultural activities including commemorations, dinner dances, luncheons and fetes.
Provision of the club’s hall and facilities for use by the local community including schools and neighbourhood groups.
The Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne and Victoria is the first and original Cretan organisation formed in Australia. The club was founded in 1956 by a group of Greek migrants of Cretan descent. Their original purpose was to assist and create a support network for newly arrived compatriot migrants.
From 1955 to 1973, approximately 200,000 Greeks migrated to Australia at the invitation of the Australian government as part of their “populate or perish” immigration scheme. Most settled in Melbourne and a significant proportion of them were Cretan. As the wave of migration of Cretan diaspora continued in this period, the Cretan Brotherhood grew to become one of the most prominent organisations in the Greek community of Melbourne.
Until the early eighties the club was based in a small shop-house in Bridge Road, Richmond. However, by that time the club had well and truly outgrown the confines of these small premises and decided to relocate to a place with a size that better suited the needs of its members. In 1986, the club purchased its current premises in Nicholson Street, Brunswick. A property of just over 4,500sqm with a 450 sqm building and ample space for on-site parking. The site was formerly owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese and, as we understand, used as a school and for assemblies.
A few years after the club acquired the site, a fire gutted much of the ins ide of the existing building. The external façade was maintained but the inside of the building was re-constructed with mostly volunteer labour and donated materials. Today, the building is a hall comprising a stage, bar and commercial kitchen facilities that can cater for functions for up to 270 people.
The Cretan Brotherhood today is very much a family club with approximately 600 members of all ages; mostly people of Cretan descent who are first to fourth generation Australians. The club is administered by a committee of volunteers. Over the last few years the composition of the committee has transformed from the original Cretan migrants, to mostly second and third generation Melbourne-born Cretan Australians, who are committed to the keep the club thriving and uphold its objectives.
Whilst the club’s focus is on Cretan culture, we welcome people of all backgrounds to come and learn about Crete, as we are keen to learn about other cultures and be a constructive part of the local community.
The club’s logo has essentially remained the same since it was founded. It features a map of Crete straddled by the “The Prince of Lillies” depicted in a famous fresco recovered from the palace of Knossos in Crete, painted during the era of the ancient Minoan civilisation.
The Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne and Victoria is run by a dedicated group of volunteers. The club is organised via a number of committees.
- The Committee is responsible for the running of all aspects of the club across membership, finances and facility management.
- The Youth Committee represents the Younger members of the club and arranges cultural events that promote friendship, Cretan culture and fundraise for the club.
- The Elderly Committee represents the Senior members of the club and arranges lunches and events that engage the community.
- The Ladies Committee represents the Women of the club and arranges cultural events and fundraising campaigns.
- The Dance Committee represents the groups of Dance teachers who volunteer their time and effort to educate members in Cretan Dance, History and Music.