Two years without the giant of Greek language education Panagiotis Liveriadis

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Two years ago, the hierophant of Greek language education in Australia, Panagiotis St. Liveriadis, a conscientious citizen, honest patriot and selfless Greek, worker and cultivator of the Greek spirit and education in Australia, Greece and Halki, passed away.

Liveriadis historically, was the most conscientious and energetic officer of the Greek Ministry of Education in Australia. A person with a heavy sense of his mission; he literally went out to Greek immigrants and spoke to them through their souls, conveying his own love and passion for learning Greek and Greek culture. 

He contributed to the systematic organisation of Parents’ and Guardians’ Associations throughout Melbourne, established weekly radio lecture programmes with thousands of listeners, organised the intellectual and educational world of Victoria and established in Brunswick and Oakleigh training seminars for Greek teachers on teaching, encouraging and motivating students to learn, cultivating enthusiasm in the classroom, child psychology and history.

For two years, hundreds of Greek teachers were trained in these seminar programs and significantly improved their knowledge.

Together with the educational team, they wrote teaching manuals adapted to the conditions here, books that were recognised by the Greek Ministry of Education authorities and approved for printing, unfortunately without having a final result for Greek-language education, because with the intervention of a party gang, these books were pulped. (The unscrupulous, narcissistic, competitive and self-destructive Greek that we carry inside us with the DNA of our ancestors does not say and will never abate).

For the first and last time in the history of education for Hellenism of the Diaspora, it was Liveriadis who persuaded all actors and providers of Greek language education to cooperate and established in Melbourne the Coordinating Education Committee, with him and Dimitris Ktenas then in the Board’s leadership for four years, a Committee that helped to operate smoothly the distribution of textbooks from Greece and to provide for all afternoon schools, regardless of who their authority was – communal, ecclesiastical, independent or private.

The huge contribution to the first and only bilingual day school established and operated in Australia, the Greek Orthodox College of St. John, was decisive for its smooth operation, until 1993.

It was Liveriadis and his associates who persuaded the Greek government (Ministers G. Papandreou, St. Papathemelis) to subsidise the then Archdiocese and Archbishop Stylianos the Dyscolus, with three million dollars, so that the ANZ Bank agreed to return the Monastery and College to the Archdiocese (The Matsis-Tamis reports exist in the Archives of the Greek state).

Liveriadis, in order to give history, the value of eternal memory, wrote his monumental book for the Agios Ioannis Foundation, where there are hundreds of references to the historical events of the time and leave for judgment and learning the self-destructive of the Greek. Besides, he taught to thousands of Greek children and transplanted into their souls the love for our common great country.

On the day of his death, I had published the following note in the Greek language press of Australia, which is still relevant, to remind those who wish to honour those who served them, but also to give another chance to all those who for some reason did not realise the tragic void left by the absence of a sensitized teacher and reformer.

I wrote at the time:

At midnight on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Panagiotis Liveriadis left the earthly world to find himself in the arms of his ancestors and to take root, as an immortal memory, in the hearts of all those who had the good fortune and privilege to enjoy his wisdom. The most active official of Greek language education in Melbourne, the founding Education Consultant, the first seconded teacher of the post-war period in Australia.

The great Arkas Historian Polybius in his book Recycling, which was the source of administration of the modern state, also pointed out the importance of death as the beginning and not the end of the dialectics of beings. This great worker of education followed the inevitable path of recycling, to leave behind a rich tradition in the importance of his institutional role. Liveriadis worked, lived and taught in Melbourne unitedly, without divisions. He did not set up his own meterizi. It did not follow the system of files, a sterile and largely conceited intersubjectivism, usually followed by certain consular and ecclesiastical authorities, which preach, with great fervour and vindictive bulimia, as undesirable certain persons simply because that is how they found it in the file from the “predecessors.”

Liveriadis had no files, nor did his associate, Consul General Elias Lymberopoulos nor erudite and intellectual Consul General Georges Veis. They were functionaries of the state for all Greeks, as defined by the Greek Constitution. Liveriadis condemned no one inexcusably. Even when he was being pursued ideologically, the acquaintances of the then establishment of the fanatical party gang from radio and newspapers, the always mild-mannered Liveriadis, set up his unifying character in front of them. His speech did not cross red lines. His actions are humanly impeccable, objective. It embraced all institutions of Greek language education. No one was left over for Liveriadis.

Between 1977 and 1981, when ideological fanaticism was still in Melbourne, Liveriadis created the unified Education Committee. Historically, this was the first united coalition of Greeks in Australia in the post-war period. Meeting at the offices of the Community of Melbourne, representatives of all stakeholders, from state, community, independent, parish schools, as well as representatives of our day schools, were present. They were united by Liveriadis, and the vision maintained by this hierophant of Greek language education.

An education close to the Greek tradition, with the main pillar of Greek language education, with awareness of our cultural heritage, through which we keep in every era ephemeral some values of this heritage, which we call tradition. He sided with the Cypriot brothers in their struggle and the Macedonians, organising student competitions and cultivating knowledge of their history. He joined the people of Northern Epirus who were fighting for their own rights that were left without justification in 1913. He was appointed the first Chairman of the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies, which he served with selflessness and passion from 1986 to 2016.

As a family man he grew up and had three children, Stamatis, Iphigenia and Telemachos, worthy scientists of medicine, he nurtured grandchildren, and with his late cohabitant, Katerina, decided to put down roots in Australia. He saw that this place provided opportunities for his children. He sacrificed his own career as High School Principal of the First Lyceum of Thessaloniki. He came and worked here as a mainstay of our oldest Day School, St. John’s College. And later, after the death of his wife, he joined his life with his wife, Anastasia, a prudent and spiritually benevolent woman, who for twenty whole years supported him with selflessness and shared with him rich experiences of spiritual life.

Panagiotis Liveriadis left a huge legacy for time to do him injustice. His words, his actions, his works create an inexhaustible reservoir of values, role models, models that will remain within us, as well as in our children. He will be remembered as the prudent ruler of Greek language education. As a driver of the debt we have towards Greece, as our duty and as our ideology.

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