Since Karen people came to live in Australia, they have seen that organisation is very important for the community in this country. Even though they were less in number, they started organising themselves as a group. After the Karen people started growing in number, in 1996 they started organising a committee.
The purpose for this committee is to work for the Karen people who had resettled in this country especially in socio-political perspective. For the Karen organisation to be recognised in this country, this committee started writing basic constitution for the first time on February 17, 1997. The same year, the Karens in different states started organising committees for the first time through Teleconference.
On February 14, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation's constitution was recognised by the Australian government. And in April, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation's committees from all over Australia held the first national conference in Sydney. On July 16, 1998, the Australian Karen Organisation was recognised by the Australian government.
The Australian Karen Organisation (AKO) was registered as Incorporated under the Association Act 1981 on 16 July 1998 in the state of Victoria.
At present, there are seven chapters of the Australian Karen Organisation which operate as the Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Northern Territory branches.
There are many Karen community members living across Australia who migrated under the SHP Program Visa Sub Class 200, 202, and 204. It is estimated that the number of Karens in Australia are about 20,000, with a majority of Karen refugees resettling in Victoria.
Our vision is for the well establishment and resettlement of the Karen community in Australia.
Our mission is to represent and act as an umbrella organisation for the Karen people in Australia and to represent them and voice their concerns in all political, social, cultural and economic matters and to facilitate their affiliation to the AKO.
The Objectives of the Australian Karen Organisation are as follow:
In order for our Objectives to be fulfilled we, therefore, want to encourage our people to work together for peace in order that our people would be in stable in the countries where we live. Our greatest hope is that we want to see all the Karen people working in peace and harmony.
The AKO has a Central Committee to co-ordinate the activities of the AKO and to be the ultimate authority in matters of policy, discipline and direction.
A Management Committee is appointed in every branch to manage the affairs of the branch in the state in which it has been formed.
Within the each state’s Management Committee are two departments. One of which is the Youth Affairs Department which is to focus and institute programs on matters pertaining to the Karen Youth in Australia and overseas, and to network with other youth groups around the world.
The latter department is the Women Affairs Department which is to focus and institute programs on matters pertaining to the Karen women and women of the world and to network with other women organisation around the world.
Sub-committees may also be formed as and when necessary to facilitate and implementation of programs initiated by the AKO.