‘South Australia’s Greek community opened their arms to me’: Labor’s Olivia Savvas 

·

At the age of 25, Newland Labor MP Olivia Savvas, is the youngest member of South Australia’s state parliament. 

However, with her recent maiden speech, she proved that wisdom and resilience are not virtues that only come with age.

“I can stand in this place -even when it’s incredibly difficult- and use my experiences to guide my decision making. Your traumas cannot define your goals,” she said, addressing her parliamentary colleagues earlier this month, for the first time.

The young politician who won her seat with a 6.3 per cent swing and was elected to Tea Tree Gully Council in 2018, thanked her mother Rachel Coopers and aunties, father Michael Savvas and her stepfather for shaping her to the person she is today and shared how her childhood experiences motivated her to enter the political arena. 

“My memories of being a four-year-old are somewhat tarnished by alcoholism and domestic violence that followed,” Olivia Savvas said.

“I was raised in sometimes a bit of a difficult environment,” she told The Greek Herald

“I’ve got two cousins who are in state care. They were raised by addicts. And myself, my stepfather was an alcoholic. We moved around a lot and I did not have a lot of security in my life growing up. And so, I felt I had the ability to do something. 

“I owed it to my cousins, my sisters and my brothers.”

Olivia with her late Greek grandfather Dennis

Savvas, whose paternal grandfather, migrated to Australia from the island of Samos in the eastern Aegean, joined the Labor Party at the age of 16 and ever since she has been fighting to give a voice to young people and women.

“Politics and policies are better made and adapted when the people who make them understand firsthand their communities,” she said, explaining that despite the “significant progress” made in recent years, young women from diverse backgrounds are still not represented equally in political and public life. 

“We, the women in the Labor Party, have a saying. We say, you cannot be what you cannot see,” Savvas said.

With fond memories of spending Greek Easter with her ‘pappou’ Dennis Savvas and her father’s stories about the Greek ‘filoxenia’ and ‘filotimo’ the politician said she admires “how proud the Greek community is”. 

“Greek community groups have opened their arms to me and have included me as one of their own. That’s really important to me. 

“We often talk with my dad about how Greek people make you feel part of a big family. That’s a real Greek thing and it’s very special,” she said. 

Olivia Savvas was recently identified as one of South Australia’s rising stars in politics and time is on her side. 

I asked her where she sees herself in five years.  

“I hope that I’ll still be elected and representing my community because by then I’ll only just have turned 30,” she said with a steady but kind voice.

A phrase of her parliamentary speech echoes in my mind.

“I come from a line of strong, independent women… In our family we were bred to be fighters”.

READ MORE: Minister Koutsantonis announces $2.1m investment to boost Greek language in SA

Monument to migration - Mother's Day

Advertisement

Share:

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH TGH

By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Advertisement

Latest News

How Commodore John Stavridis commemorates ANZAC Day every year

Every year, on April 25, Australians honour all those who have fallen, those who have served and all of those who continue to serve.

Australian track and field athlete Mikeala Selaidinakos aims to qualify for Paris Olympics

On Thursday 25 April, Australian track and field athlete Mikeala Selaidinakos will depart for the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24.

‘I get closer to my faith’: Greek Orthodox people on the importance of fasting for Easter

With Orthodox Easter around the corner, the Lent period leading up to Holy Saturday and Anastasi continues.

Honouring the memory of dual ANZAC Constantine Aroney BEM at his restored grave

Each year on ANZAC Day we commemorate those who fought and died at Gallipoli in 1915 and those brave men and women who have fought since.

Women’s justice champ unveils the untold story of WWII ANZACs from Brunswick to Greece

Phil Cleary's latest project, “Gladys and the Brunswick Boys,” delves into the experiences of World War II ANZACs who fought in Greece.

You May Also Like

Greek Australian business owner talks about being a Tier 1 exposure site in Melbourne

Wani Sakellaropoulos is the co-owner of Ms. Frankie’s and says she has a bad case of déjà vu after being told to shut her doors for 14 days.

Canterbury-Bankstown and Randwick councils raise Greek flag to mark Revolution Bicentennial

The Greek flag has been raised by the Canterbury-Bankstown and Randwick Councils to recognise the bicentenary of the Greek Revolution.

NSW Labor pledges to support the Greek Festival of Sydney

NSW Labor Party has pledged it will invest $220,000 a year over the next four years to support the Greek Festival of Sydney if elected.