AVOM’ is known in Australia as the Association of Ex-Royal Dutch Navy personnel. The Australian branch has been established in 1996 and was recognised by the Chief Directorate in the Netherlands in 1997. In 2000 the association has approximately 4000 members, mostly in the Netherlands with a small portion all over the world. The AVOM has existed for 20 years and has 21 branches. The Queensland Branch started after a reunion of the Dutch Royal Navy in Brisbane in 1996 when the participants asked whether this could become a yearly event. It was felt this would be easier with the parent association behind us. Though most participants belonged to another military association in Queensland, people believed that real need existed for a separate group. Our group has a special bond, possibly because of prolonged living at close quarters on a ship for months and sometimes years. This was discussed with the existing military association in Queensland, which did not consider the difference significant and did not propose to have a separate section.
When an advertisement was placed in two local Dutch language newspapers, the reaction was greater than expected. The Consul helped greatly in finding sponsors. The hall of the Netherlands Association of Queensland (NAQ) was made available for a meeting, a banner was designed and polo shirts printed with our logo. Of course there had to be a <code>Rijsttafel’ (Indonesian banquet), always an essential part of any Dutch Navy occasion. The meeting resulted in a request to the Directorate to start a branch in Australia, which was granted. In the beginning all activities had to be organised and funded by the office bearers themselves. The first occasion was a commemoration of the ‘Battle of the Java Sea’ and participants contributed to the cost. In the Monument Garden of the NAQ in Richland we were able to install one of the most beautiful remembrance plaques in commemoration of the ‘Battle of the Java Sea’, namely the `ABDA-fleet’ in line in full sea.
The AVOM has overcome early problems and reunions are held in rotation in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Participants only pay travel costs. We remain a Dutch branch of the Netherlands umbrella association and try to keep everything as Dutch as possible as we sail happily along under the current branch management. AVOM is a member of the Federation of Netherlands Organisations of Queensland Inc.
Cees Huig, Secretary AVOM Australia branch, November 2000