About Us

The AGWS aims to support Australians with a German-speaking background. Our clients are mainly elderly migrants. Through regular meetings and outings we create an environment of trust and friendship, fighting loneliness and isolation so often connected to old age.

The first German ambassador to arrive in Australia after the second World War was Dr. Hess who, with his wife Johanna, landed in Sydney in 1952. During their time here approximately 50,000 Germans immigrated to Australia, many of them young men with their families, who had been recruited by Australian immigration officers travelling to Germany to get workers for big projects like building the Warragamba Dam and Port Kembla. For the first five years of working in Australia, new immigrants were not eligible for any government social services. There were many cases of accidents and deaths of bread winners and help was urgently needed. In 1953, Johanna Hess gathered a circle of active ladies around her and established the Australian-German Relief Society to address this problem, first in Sydney, then in Melbourne. The first president of the Sydney society was Maria von Hein. After serving only a year, she was followed by Irmhild Beinssen who established the Society as an entity supporting German immigrants in need of financial and social help, in relationship with the Australian Council of Social Services. Frau Beinssen headed the Society in Sydney for more than 20 years in the best possible way. The Society, now called the Australian-German Welfare Society (AGWS), got financial help from the Federal Republic of Germany from the start. Due to the generosity of Imhild Beinssen’s friend Hedwig Zaky who bequeathed her house to the Society, it was possible to establish the premises we have now as a stable home for the AGWS office, a place to hold its meetings and social events, and also a source of income through the rental of the second floor rooms. In addition to this income, the AGWS is able to continue its social work even though it is no longer financially supported by the German government, through further generous inheritances from Martha Steyer and Peta Mansfield, and through the fund raising efforts of the AGWS Committee. Nowadays clients are mainly elderly Australians with German background who find friends and help, if needed, at the AGWS. Outings as well as all sorts of social occasions (movies, speeches, morning coffees and birthday celebrations) are organised at the house in Strathfield. Groups meet in Cabramatta, Wollongong and Strathfield.
Current Committee Members

(elected on 19 December 2022)

President: Mrs Sonja Schweizer

Vice President: Mrs Christa Dale

Treasurer: Mr Gerhard Kopff

Committee Members:

Mrs Hanni Dibbayawan

Mrs Anke Hoeppner-Ryan

Mrs Beate Roth

Mr Rainald Roesch

Mr Hermann Bohle

Number of Members: Approx. 150