The founding of the Australian Finnish Rest Home Association Inc is a milestone chapter in the history of Finnish immigration to Australia.

The first Finn is said to have visited Australia on Captain Cook’s first voyage in 1770. Since that early beginning, Finns immigrated to Australia mostly individually and in small numbers, until the upheaval wrought by World War II led to a surge in the number of Finns emigrating for work and the hope of a new life.

They arrived in their thousands in Australia from the late 40s and through the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when Australia was growing and developing rapidly. The Finns pitched in with their expertise in construction and engineering, and many also worked in manufacturing, forestry, and mining and in the sugar cane fields of Far North Queensland.

By the late 60s, the post-war immigrant Finns had well and truly settled into their new homeland, raised their families, put down new roots, and done a long day’s work in their trades and professions. It was at this time that the thoughts of many turned to a life after work and the prospect of retirement.

The germ of an idea for a Finnish retirement village was first publicly aired in 1971, in Mt. Isa, at the annual general meeting of the Australasian Federation of Finnish Societies and Clubs (Australasian Suomalaisten Liitto – ASL). The idea was raised more formally at the 1972 AGM in Canberra, and from this meeting a committee was formed to investigate the need and feasibility for building a Finnish rest home. This committee became the Australian Finnish Rest Home Association Inc., which was registered in 1975.

Within a few years, representatives from the three large groupings of Finns – the ASL, the Finnish Lutheran Church, and the Finnish Pentecostal Church – joined forces and the work of fundraising and location- hunting began in earnest. Fundraising support groups were formed, grants applications were sent, and Finnish government agencies were petitioned. Fete stalls, raffles, BBQs, and dinner dances were held while the volunteer members of the AFRHA board worked tirelessly to learn the legal ins and outs of establishing a modern, efficient and accredited aged care facility.

At long last, through the extreme form of Finnish determination known as “sisu,” and after many twists and turns and ups and downs, the first stage of Finlandia Village was opened in 1986, fifteen years after the idea was first raised.

Today, AFRHA trades as Finncare and is an award-winning and fully accredited aging-in-place facility that provides retired Finns with many of the cultural comforts of home while actively engaging with the wider community in the Redlands and South East Queensland.