Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022: Here are all the Greek Australians who made the list

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By Andriana Simos, Argyro Vourdoumpa, Chris Spyrou and Eleni Patsalides.

At least 20 prominent Greek Australians in the areas of philanthropy, medicine, community service and the arts have been recognised today in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2022.

The Greek Herald had the privilege of speaking to most of these recipients to get their thoughts on how it feels to be recognised. This is what they had to say.

ORDER OF AUSTRALIA:

Christopher Byron Leptos [AO] – Victoria

Christopher Byron Leptos has been awarded in the category of Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to the not-for-profit sector through leadership and philanthropic support, to the public sector and to education.

“I was recognised 22 years ago with the Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for work on sustainability and that was a great honour,” Mr Leptos tells The Greek Herald.

“To get the honour twice in your lifetime is really quite unbelievable.”

The son of Cypriot migrants has always been passionate about the not-for-profit sector. He has been the National Chairman and President of the Heart Foundation since 2018, and is the Incoming Chair of the Summer Foundation.

He also holds positions at Melbourne University and Monash University Business School.

“The thing that really drives me is I have a really powerful belief in education. Neither my father nor my mother had a long education but they were both very well read,” Mr Leptos says.

“I think it was really amazing that my mother and father knew that education could be transformational even though they didn’t have that opportunity.”

Andreas George Andrianopoulos [AM] – Victoria

Andreas George Andrianopoulos was recognised as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to business and to philanthropy.

Professor Joy Damousi [AM] – Victoria

Professor Joy Damousi was recognised as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to social sciences and the humanities, to history and to tertiary education.

Christina Efthymiades [AM] – NSW

Christina Efthymiades is a woman of many talents. When she’s not teaching Greek dancing at The Nassibian Dancers, she’s the Director of the Board of St Nectarios Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of Burwood, and Laconic PR and Communications.

Ms Efthymiades has also worked closely with the Haematology Clinical Research Unit at Concord Repatriation General Hospital and was Director of the Foundation for A Bloody Great Cause.

It’s for these reasons she has been recognised as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia this year. She tells The Greek Herald this honour is such “an unexpected surprised.”

“I have been blessed to be able to contribute my skills and enthusiasm to make a positive difference to a variety of organisations and causes that really matter to me,” she says.

“My voluntary work and the charities I serve, my career and contribution to my industry, and my passion for teaching Greek dancing for decades, have certainly kept me busy. It has also brought me great happiness, personal satisfaction and cherished, life-long friendships – and for that, I am truly grateful.”

Professor Peter Anastasius Gerangelos [AM] – NSW

Professor Peter Anastasius Gerangelos has been recognised as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to tertiary legal education, particularly to constitutional law and to professional organisations.

Mr Gerangelos is the first person of Greek heritage to have been appointed to a Chair at Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney (USYD). He is currently the Professor of Constitutional Law and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

He tells The Greek Herald it is “an honour” to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

“The support of my wife and three sons, the memory of my parents and grandparents who laid the solid foundations for any success, together with the opportunities provided by Australia, is acknowledged with gratitude,” Mr Gerangelos says.

“Also acknowledged are those outstanding teachers who inspired and encouraged me to pursue the path I have chosen, who emphasised the fundamental importance of learning and knowledge… and who taught that the great liberal professions must ultimately be practised as a service to others.

“Integral to this have been the teachings, the spirit, the fortitude and courage, imbued from the soul and light of our Greek heritage – classical and Christian – especially its philosophical, legal, philanthropic, spiritual and ethical dimensions.”

Christina Despoteris [OAM] – Victoria

Speaking about her recognition for service to the Greek community of Melbourne, Ms Despoteris says she feels “extremely proud” and “blessed to have had a very rewarding career and exceptional relations with all the groups and organisations.”

“I have associated with many amazing and talented people, not only in our community but the broader Australian community. It has been my privilege to work with them. I accept this Award as an endorsement of my work over many years in promoting the Greek culture and traditions, the Greek language, Greek music and dance and of course Greek history,” she says.

The child of migrant parents from Alexandria, Egypt, Ms Despoteris did not know a word of English when she came to Australia but this only motivated her to give back to the community.

“I am a strong believer in creating, developing and establishing things which will leave a legacy for future generations,” she says.

“I would like to dedicate this Award to my parents, Dimitrios and Sotiria (dec) and my husband Gary Sheppard (dec), who believed in me, encouraged me, supported me and loved me for who I am,” Ms Despoteris says and thanks her mentors and work colleagues who have supported her over the years. 

Dr Stephanos Herodotou [OAM] – Victoria

Dr Stephanos Herodotou has been recognised with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to medicine and to the Cypriot community of Victoria.

Born in Cyprus, Dr Herodotou studied medicine in Athens before migrating to Australia in 1977 at the age of 25. Since 1981, he has been a Consultant Emergency Physician at The Northern Hospital in Melbourne, and is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne Medical School.

“I have never seen medicine as a profession but rather a service to the community. Throughout my career, I have seen medicine as an opportunity to contribute to society and to man,” Dr Herodotou tells The Greek Herald.

He adds that he’s “very proud” to be recognised for this work and that it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his parents and family.

“Coming from a very poor family, I never really imagined myself studying medicine if it wasn’t for free education in Greece. My parents made enormous sacrifices,” the doctor says, before explaining how this has now led to his passion to be a role model for the youth.

“I believe that senior doctors should really give their experience to the younger generation. I see my role not only as a doctor treating patients, but as a teacher teaching the new generation of doctors as well.”

Helena Kyriazopoulos [OAM] – South Australia

Helena Kyriazopoulos CEO of the Multicultural Communities Council of SA (MCCSA) says being recognised for service to the multicultural community of SA “is an enormous privilege especially from a woman’s perspective.”

Her family migrated to Australia from a village in Macedonia, Greece in the early 1950s for a better life. Helena was born in South Australia not long after. 

“For me it has been a 40-year journey of supporting, working and volunteering with multicultural communities,” Ms Kyriazopoulos says.

“It’s an incredible honour and I’m trying to absorb it all.”

With over 30 years’ experience, Kyriazopoulos has been an important advocate for the CALD communities with an emphasis on disability rights, the aged and their carers and has published several journal articles and research. 

Asked for a message to young women of Greek heritage Ms Kyriazopoulos encourages them to be proud for their achievements.

“As women we achieve over and above. Be proud of that and know you are making a difference.”

Felicia Leonardos [OAM] – Victoria

Celebrating 65 years in Australia this year, 84-year-old Felicia Leonardos says: “from the moment I stepped off the boat at 18-years-old from Evia, I wanted to help all people: the old, the young and especially the sick.”

“I thank God for bringing me to this beautiful country and allowing me to do what my heart desires and that is helping others. There is no greater thing you can do in this world.”

Through her role as President of the Brotherhood Of Evia Evripos for the last 26 years, and Organiser of Christmas Carols with the Greek Archdiocese of Melbourne since 1993, Felicia is being recognised for her service to the Greek community of Victoria.  

Felicia is also the founder of the committee fundraiser for Rubella Children in Victoria. 

Peter Mercoulia [OAM] – Victoria

Asking how it felt to be recognised for his service to the Greek community of Victoria, Peter modestly says: “It was a surprise, I don’t know who put me up for it!” 

As State President of AHEPA since 2019, Peter says he is most proud of the association’s work during the pandemic where they delivered food parcels and raised funds for people domestically and in Greece.

Born in the Spartan village of Kefalas in 1955, Peter migrated to Australia at the age of nine and says his community work was inspired by his early years in Australia.

“We came here in the mid-60s with nothing. Everything we had came from the Salvation Army. It’s an honour to be recognised for my community service all these years later by this great country,” he concludes.

Con Pavlou [OAM] – NSW

Con Pavlou is one of the many people that has been recognised for his service to the multicultural community of NSW as a part of this year’s Queen’s Honours list.

“I feel humbled. I’m sure others have done what I have done in life, but to be recognised is an honour,” Mr Pavlou says to The Greek Herald.

Mr Pavlou also highlights the importance of his, along with many others’, recognition to the greater Greek community.

“I think it is great progress for the Greek community to be recognised as a part of this list.”

Steven Stefanopoulos [OAM] – Victoria

Steven Stafanopoulos has served many roles in his career from Mayor to volunteer, although being recognised on the Queen’s Honour list was a surprise.

“I was taken aback, surprised, honoured, I just couldn’t believe it,” Mr Stefanopoulos tells The Greek Herald.

He describes what the phone call was like when he found out the news and his disbelief at winning such a prestigious award.

“When I got a call from the Governor General’s office, I was like ‘wait I didn’t contact the Governor General,” he says.

“I don’t do it to get anything back, I do it because it nourishes my soul, mind and spirit.”

Nicolas Papazahariakis [OAM] – South Australia

“I feel humbled, honoured and privileged to have been considered for this Award,” says Nicolas Papazahariakis, who was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal for his service to South Australia’s hospitality industry for over 30 years.

“I feel this recognition doesn’t belong just to me but my children and my partner and all the people who have supported me.”

Papazahariakis, originally from Crete, came to Australia in November 1970 as a tourist and ended up calling Australia his second home.

“I met an Australian girl in Athens and after living together for two-three years her parents wanted to meet me. Then I started meeting people and the rest is history,” he says.

“If you apply yourself and contribute to the Australian lifestyle, people will recognise it. But you have to work hard while maintaining this work-life balance. Try to enjoy life because life is short.”

Sydney Villis [OAM] – South Australia

Sydney Villis was recognised with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to emergency response organisations.

MERITORIOUS:

Argiri Alisandratos [PSM & COVID-19 Honour Roll] – Victoria

Argiri Alisandratos has received the Public Service Medal (PSM) and was named on the COVID-19 Honour Roll for outstanding public service to the community, particularly to Victoria’s most vulnerable.

He tells The Greek Herald he is “humbled” to be recognised and wanted to dedicate the award “to all those who work across our social care services and give their time, effort and expertise to helping people in need across our state.”

“It has been a privilege to serve our community particularly over the last two years given the impacts of the pandemic and the disproportional affect it has had on some of our most vulnerable members of our community,” Mr Alisandratos says.

“My Greek heritage has always been important to me and has influenced who I am today – connected to my culture, deeply appreciative of the sacrifices made and struggles experienced by my parents as migrants to this country and the opportunity Australia provided them and by extension, to me.”

Joanne Maree Stampalia [PSM] – Western Australia

Joanne Maree Stampalia has received the Public Service Medal (PSM) for outstanding public service in operational reform and modernisation of the Courts and Tribunals of Western Australia.

Detective Sergeant Scott Andrew Mellis [APM] – Federal

Detective Sergeant Scott Andrew Mellis has been recognised with an Australian Police Medal (APM) in recognition of distinguished service, particularly in the field of Cybercrime Operations and its predecessors.

Inspector Andrew Markakis [APM] – Victoria

Inspector Andrew Markakis has been recognised with an APM for serving the community as an exemplary police officer for over 21 years.

DISTINGUISHED & CONSPICUOUS:

Lieutenant Colonel Paul John Bellas [Australian Army]

Lieutenant Colonel Paul John Bellas has been recognised for meritorious achievement in the reform of organisation management in the Australian Army.

* Please note the below list includes the names of those who are recognised as Greek. If you know someone else, please email us at greek@foreignlanguage.com.au.

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