Stefan Romaniw, a “titan” of the Ukrainian diaspora, passed away on Wednesday. Romaniw was aged 68 and died unexpectedly from a medical episode in Warsaw, Poland while in transit from the inaugural meeting of the Anti-Imperialist Bloc of Nations (ABN) in Lithuania to his home in Melbourne, Australia.

Described as a “giant of a man with a giant heart,” Romaniw was First Vice President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) and Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO). He was also the former Chairman of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Bandera Faction (OUN-B) from 2009 to 2023, and the former Chairman of the Ukrainian Youth Association.

In professional life, Romaniw was the long-term Executive Director of Community Languages Australia, which represents ethnic language schools, and the former Chairman of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.


In passing, Romaniw was publicly saluted by Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP, its Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton MP, its Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong, its Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Simon Birmingham, and many other Australian political and civic leaders, including former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison.

While extending his condolences to Romaniw’s family, the Labor Prime Minister, who visited Kyiv with Romaniw in 2022, noted “Stefan’s commitment to the cause of peace and his steadfast support for the people of Ukraine were an inspiration and an example to so many Australians.”

The Prime Minister was joined in paying his respects by the Liberal Leader of the Opposition who said that “Stefan was respected internationally for his fierce advocacy of the Ukrainian cause.”

Romaniw was an active participant in the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2013-14 Revolution of Dignity where, often at personal risk, he strongly expressed solidarity and encouragement to the gathered crowds on behalf of the Ukrainian diaspora. From 2008, he spearheaded international efforts to commemorate the Holodomor, including supporting the establishment of the National Museum of the Holodomor in Kyiv.


A marathon traveler between Australia and Ukraine, Romaniw frequently met with Ukraine’s presidents, prime ministers and other political, civic, business and religious leaders, and was widely trusted in his counsel.

In a statement expressing its “profound heartbreak and deep sorrow” at his passing, the UWC said that Romaniw was “known for his uncompromising patriotism, excellent strategic and organizational skills, and his courageous and resilient spirit.” It called his contributions to the Ukrainian cause “immense” and “immeasurable.”

“Stefan Romaniw approached everything with the highest standards, always with love, good humor, and a memorable smile that will be forever cherished alongside his wonderful deeds. His life serves as a profound example for future generations,” the UWC statement said.

For his service to the Ukrainian people and Ukraine, Romaniw was the recipient of several high state awards of Ukraine: the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise V Class; the Order of Merit I Class; the Order of Merit II Class; the Order of Merit III Class; and the Jubilee Medal “25 Years of Independence of Ukraine”. In 2023, he was awarded the UWC’s highest honor – the St. Volodymyr the Great Medal.


Romaniw was also awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to multiculturalism in Australia. In his home state of Victoria, where he was described as a “towering figure,” consideration is being given to holding a state funeral for Romaniw.

Romaniw is survived by Anastasia, his wife, his children, Pete and Trenga, their spouses, and five grandchildren, Lincoln, Lotti, Willa, Payton and Emerson.

A statement released by the Romaniw family said: “We take comfort in knowing how many lives [Stefan] impacted and how he changed the world for the better. He really did leave his mark. He was a true leader and treated everyone equally. He had a special gift of making everyone feel welcomed, heard and loved. He was a special man. Our best friend, our mentor, our inspiration.”

Romaniw’s personal passion was barracking for his beloved Australian Rules Football team, the Essendon Bombers, who perhaps fittingly wear a red-and-black uniform.

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