The Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI) held its 34th annual awards ceremony last night to recognise and celebrate excellence in the Greek Australian community.
Held at the Hellenic Museum and hosted by Mary Coustas, the digital ceremony experienced a three hour delay due to technical difficulties, yet rolled straight into their awards presentation once all issues were solved.
The ceremony opened up with a special message from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who said although they couldn’t meet tonight, he is grateful that the important event continued to go ahead.
“After all, tonights about recognising the Hellenic Australians who bring our nation together. And who in doing so make our state stronger,” Daniel Andrews said.
The first award of the night was the Bank of Sydney Business Award, awarded to an individual who has made significant contributions to their industry, built a strong brand, and are recognised leaders within their industry.
Melbourne Seafood Centre CEO Barbara Konstas received the prestigious award, saying its added some “positivity and normalcy” to the difficult year.
“I was in my father’s shadow as he had a family business in the wholesale fish market and this taught me all about how to run a business,” Barbara Konstas said during her acceptance speech.
The next award recipient was Dr Paul Eliadis AM, who received the Professional Services Award for his incredible 35-year contribution to clinical haematology and oncology.
“I was very surprised to receive the award… the things I do I’ll be doing for many many years, I’ve never thought of awards if I’m honest. I’ve done these things because they seem like the right things to do,” Dr Eliadis said.
Gadjo Dilo presented their signature gypsy-swing take on beloved Greek songs, from the rooftop of Gazarte, during the award breaks. Also entertaining watchers, performer Fivos Delivorias sent a very special musical message to the Greek Community and to the Chamber.
For the first time this year, the HACCIs presented a new Award; The Innovation Award. It acknowledged an individual who has made significant contribution to their industry through the introduction or improvement of an idea, method, technology, process or application.
The inaugural recipient of the award was well-known Greek Australian researcher Vasso Apostolopoulos, who has dedicated her life to the fields of medicinal chemistry, molecular biology and immunology, being the first in the world to develop the first concept of immunotherapy for cancer in the early 1990s.
“Throughout my career the Greek community has really been behind me and helped me with my research and support me…. and in return I promise I will develop and promote drugs and vaccines against various diseases,” the inaugural Innovation Award recipient said.
Violet Roumeliotis received the Woman of Influence Award at the digital ceremony, recognised as one of Australia’s greatest social entrepreneur’s that has been a champion of diversity, inclusion and social justice. Violet dedicated the award to her 80-year-old mother who still inspires her everyday, along with her late father, Yianni, who “lives in her heart” for the past 30 years since he was lost.
“This award is for all those migrants who arrived on our shores with hope, open hearts, aspirations and dreams,” Violet said upon receiving her award.
The HACCI Sports Award was given not to a renowned sports athlete, but to another individual that is a vital asset in the sports industry. Delly Carr has 30+ years experience of ethics and signature photography and was formally recognised by his peers with his induction as a founding Member of the World Photography Academy.
The Community Award was presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution as a role model for compassion and service. The award was handed out to Lilian Gomatos, who has been an integral part of the Darwin Greek community for decades, working tirelessly to promote Greek culture to the broader community.
Through her leadership, the community established Glenti, the glorious Greek festival that has been running in the Northern Territory for 32 years.
The Chris Saristavros Young Achiever Award honours young role models who will shape the future of the Greek community, and who more deserving than Natalie Kyriacou. The Founder and CEO of My Green World, Natalie has been endeavouring to drive positive change worldwide, creating inclusive youth education programs and technologies that increase access to wildlife and environmental conservation and sciences.
“My goal has always been to have a positive impact on the world and inspire curiosity and kindness in my own small way. Thanks to HACCI and my supportive family, I’ve been able to have a greater impact than I could’ve possibly imagined,” Natalie Kyriacou said.
As the award ceremony came to a close, the final and most important award was yet to be handed out. The Spiro Stamoulis Lifetime Achievement Award honours those who have had a strong impact on the Hellenic Australian Community of Diaspora throughout their private and professional life.
Nick Polites has been a champion of multiculturalism and a living example of how music brings people together. He was one of the founders of the Greek Australian Welfare Society, which led to him gaining a membership in the Galbally Committee that reviewed Australia’s multicultural public policy in the late 1970s.
Mary Coustas passed on her congratulations to all the winners, saying the awards will return bigger and stronger next year.