Who Are We?
The Frank Konecny Community Centre was officially opened on the 6th July 1991, but has been operating since 1990.
The association’s object is to pursue the following charitable purposes:
The Frank Konecny Community Centre Inc. is a not for profit incorporation operating in the City of Kwinana. Our main objective is to provide a range of services, which support and educate people in need within our community with the aim of relieving their financial, physical and mental stress and improve their quality of life using a range of formal and informal methods. The Frank Konecny Community Centre Inc. recognizes that hardship does not discriminate, therefore neither do we.
The Frank Konecny Community Centre acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land in which we live, the Nyoongar people, and we acknowledge the cultural diversity of the community we serve and strive for inclusiveness and equality for all.
Who is Frank Konecny?
Frank Konecny 1922 – 1989
Born in Vienna, the capital of the small but very beautiful ‘mountain republic’ of Austria. The last of three children and educated by the Marist brothers. His father owned a tailor shop and employed a varying number of people. These were the lean years after World War I and listening to the conversation in the workshop, very early Frank learned how tough life could be, and who and what could possibly ease the struggle. His father and his brothers and sisters influence during those formative years played a big part in Franks evolving decision to stand up and be counted. He associated with likeminded people of all age groups, especially when the heavy and destructive boots of Nazism trampled all over his beloved homeland, its culture and the values which became increasingly dearer to him than the security of his own life. He wanted the removal of the yoke of the swastika, equal opportunity for all, and freedom for the human spirit. It cost him dearly – the hated Gestapo knocked on his parents’ home and arrested him for being a member of the resistance movement and a leader of the forbidden catholic youth groups. He was sentenced amongst many others to gestapo prison and after his release just had time to become engaged to Marisa Kasparek, also a leader in one of the resistance youth groups, before he was forced into the army and sent to the Russian frontline. As he often explained later, the bitter cold (sometimes 45 degrees below zero) must have had something to do with his longing for blue skies and sunny climate, which he later found in his adopted homeland. The hunger he experienced made him determined to prevent others suffering the same fate if he could help it. He survived two years in Russia, was moved to Italy, and then captured by new Zealanders. Able to prove his background of resistance he was handed over to the English and sent to Egypt to help in the intelligence service until 1946.
Meanwhile the Nazi empire was defeated, leaving behind a trail of death and sorrow, but also a spirit of reconciliation and hope. Frank returned to Vienna and married his fiancée Maria. Achieving his master’s degrees in tailoring, he kept in close contact with all those who, like him, dreamed of a world which would ‘lay down its arms and hammer their swords into ploughs’. Alas, dark political clouds still hanging over Europe made Frank and Maria decide in 1955 to take their son Bernhard (6) and daughter Brigitta (5) to ‘sunburnt country’. Frank tried his hand at various jobs and finally decided to take the family to the blue asbestos town of Wittenoom. (A fatal decision which planted the seeds of total destruction of his lungs through asbestosis and silicosis.) Frank became a mine worker to earn the bread and butter for his family, but his free time was spent in helping and supporting others. He formed the Wittenoom section committee of the Australian workers union and became its president. Together they achieved many benefits not only for mine workers, but also for shire employees, and spearheaded many issues for the good of the trade union movement.
Franks political leaning was towards the labour movement, he was a foundation member of its Wittenoom branch, president of the Kwinana branch, member of the state executive and delegate to state conferences. He was elected councillor to the tableland shire council where Maria worked as secretary to the shire clerk. Their third child Michael was born in 1963 – a real dinkum Aussie.
The deadly mine was closed in 1966 and the family moved to Kwinana where frank joined the workforce of Alcoa Australia. He became first president of the newly formed Australian workers union committee, on which he served for 20 years until his retirement. He had been elected to Kwinana town council in the 1976 served on a myriad of local committees, became deputy mayor in 1983 and finally mayor in 1985.
Very many honours have been bestowed on frank during his lifetime. Kwinana honoured him as “citizen of the year” in 1988, the Prime Minister of Australia bestowed life membership of the Australia workers union committee, on which he served for 20 years until his retirement. He was sent overseas on three occasions by the trade union representing the state government of Western Australia. He received a diploma of meritorious service award for outstanding service and achievement to local government.
What made Frank tick? His experience of the horrors of war and its effect on people’s lives made him value peace and the basic principle for development of humanity. His style was conciliation rather than confrontation. He was influenced and affirmed by the social teachings of his church, which stresses the unselfish involvement of people in civic affairs for the betterment of humankind – social justice. He died of industrial disease on the 5th of October 1989 after a successful operation on his aorta.
It is said of Frank – “he was a good man”.
History of the Centre
The Frank Konecny Community Centre is the oldest Neighbourhood Centre in Kwinana. We are conveniently located in the middle of the geographical parameter of the City of Kwinana.
The Centre is available to the community 7 days a week. Known till recently as the Frank Konecny Family Centre, it was one of several family centres instigated by the labour government the late eighties. Dedicated by RJL Hawke on 25th November 1989, a steering committee was formed in 1990 and the centre opened in 1991. While the building was being completed, a four-year old program was run offsite in a council building.
Throughout the centres history, the aim has been to bring people of all ages, nationalities and cultures together to enhance community spirit. Along the way there have been various dramas and challenges, but the spirit has remained strong and the low turnover in staff reflects an overall stability.
The new Kwinana strategy in 1997 set about revamping the area and thereby strengthening the community. The resulted in the Satterley Project, which involved the refurbishment of Calista, Medina and Orelia, and subsequently an increase in young families in the area, rather than the previous aging trend.
In 2001 the centre celebrated its 10th birthday with a big event involving local dignities and council representatives.
By 2002 it was felt that it was time for a change to the centres name to reflect that the centre is for the whole community, not only ‘mums and children’. Hence the name was changed to Frank Konecny Community Centre.
In May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic centre staff identified immediate community needs for basic life necessities. This was the starting point for the centre offering crisis and emergency relief. This service delivery was at the time assumed to be a temporary stopgap to help our community in crisis that was adapting to lockdowns, social distancing and the financial and mental health barriers the pandemic caused. This service is still running as of November 2021 due to continuing community need with an average of 7000 participants per month (as at May 2022).
The Frank Konecny Community Centre responds to the every changing needs of its community and changes its programs and services accordingly.