In an interview with the Chris Smith & Friends Podcast on Sky News Australia, Lord Mayor of Perth, Basil Zempilas, proudly discussed his Greek heritage and how it has been “character building” for him.
Host of the podcast, Chris Smith, opened up the conversation by referencing Zempilas’ name, saying “you’ve got to have a very rich Greek heritage.”
Zempilas agreed with a laugh and began describing what it was like being a Greek Australian at school.
“Look it’s quite character building actually. When you’re born in Australia and you go to school and your name’s Basil Zempilas and you look like this, you work out pretty quickly… if you’re going to be able to deal with the cards that you’ve been dealt,” Zempilas says.
The proud Kastellorizian, who is a father-of-three, then goes on to add that people born in Australia who have a non-Australian background are “different.”
“You know you’re different. And of course we assimilate, and of course we are one country, but it is something to be proud of,” Zempilas says.
“And one of the things that I try and do wherever I go is I always speak of my Greek heritage and particularly to other young Greek Australians. I always speak to them and say ‘be very proud of your heritage.’
“It’s important and of course it’s important to be Australian. We’re Australian’s first. That’s a very strong principle of mine.”
Zempilas concluded by saying that people need to be “conscious” of where they’ve come from and “what story that brings you” because it can “define you” as a person.