Hellenic Australian Lawyers honour SA’s first Supreme Court Justice of Greek heritage

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A sold out event by the the Hellenic Australian Lawyers (HAL) marked the organisation’s annual Oration in Adelaide to commemorate the life and contribution of the late Honourable Justice John William Perry – who was the first Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia with a Hellenic background.

Notable attendees included Greece’s Deputy Defence Minister, Nikos Chardalias; the Consul General of Greece in Adelaide, George Psiachas; and numerous members of the SA Parliament including the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Energy, Tom Koutsantonis.

The Oration focused on the crucial topic ‘Unification of Greek Communities and its Importance to Maintaining Hellenism in Australia for Future Generations‘ and was delivered by Bill Papastergiadis OAM – Melbourne Managing Partner at Moray & Agnew and the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne & Victoria (GCM).

Mr Papastergiadis spoke to his personal insights and with deep optimism for the future of Hellenism in Australia. He also emphasised that numerous organisations in Melbourne play a vital role in the broad successes of Melbourne’s vibrant multicultural community. Mr Papastergiadis noted that the GCM is just one part of this rich cultural matrix.

By reference to the GCM, Mr Papastergiadis referred to initiatives in recent years that have been implemented with the aim of making the organisation more relevant to the next generation of Greek Australians, whilst also noting that many of the new members will come from mixed marriages.

Some of these initiatives included significant infrastructure programs such as the construction of the 15 storey Cultural Centre; building works to Alphington Grammar; the expansion of educational initiatives by increasing the number of afternoon schools; involvement at a tertiary level through Melbourne University and the Chair for Global Hellenic Diaspora; the promotion of cultural celebrations and identity, including the recent Antipodes festival held in the Melbourne CBD and the Parthenon marbles replica; and agreements with State, Federal and Hellenic Governments, which has paved the way for outcomes such as the bilateral tourist working visa agreement and the negotiations on the double taxation agreement.

Mr Papastergiadis argued that the Greek diaspora have a critical role in ensuring the relevance of the community for future generations and that this can only be done by a mindset focused on progress and action.

“These activities allow [us] to build connections [and] demonstrates our commitment to engaging with others and addressing issues that are relevant to our internal and wider community interests…Developing trust and demonstrating relevance to this new generation will be vital to our survival,” he said.

Also in attendance at the Oration was Vice Admiral Efthymios Mikros, with the express consent of the President of Greece Her Excellency Katerina Sakellaropoulou, accompanied by the Presidential Guard of the Hellenic Republic.

This not only re-enforced the recognition by the Hellenic Republic of the diaspora’s importance to the story of Greece, but also served as a reminder that despite our distance to the homeland, Greeks worldwide are united in the Hellenic spirit – the spirit which is celebrated each OXI (No) day.

As Mr Papastergiadis emphasised, Greece’s continued dialogue with the diaspora, from the high levels of the Hellenic government to the local community support, is key to cultural survival.

“The idea of the homeland in the diaspora has changed with the passing of generations. The prevailing attitude is no longer nostalgic, filled with a melancholy [or a] sense of loss, but rather, there is now a growing sense of vitality and energy that comes from the diaspora,” Mr Papastergiadis said.

“An energy that needs to be tapped into… Greece must continue to open itself to the rest of the world…[and] adopt a pluralistic and multicultural view of itself which is one of the key benefits and learnings we [have] gained living in the diaspora.”

Reflecting on the event, HAL Co-Chair Peter Tantalos stated: “Through events such as these, and with leaders like Bill Papastergiadis championing Hellenism and charting the path forward, we can ensure that the Greek diaspora maintain their cultural spirit and actively engage with their communities to ensure the preservation of Hellenism for future generations.”

*The Hellenic Australian Lawyers (HAL) is the peak representative body of Hellenic Lawyers in Australia and provides opportunities for Hellenes and philhellenes to engage in a professional environment that celebrates Hellenic ideals, philosophy, law, and culture, while also advancing cultural harmony and diversity in the Australian legal profession.

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