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HACCI celebrates International Women’s Day with special event at the Hellenic Museum

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The Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI Vic) last night celebrated International Women’s Day with an evening of reflection and empowerment at the Hellenic Museum.

The event featured a panel discussion hosted by Chamber Chair, Fotini Kypraios, and featuring Her Honour Nola Karapanagiotidis, Judge of the County Court of Victoria; Corinne Proske, CEO of Jobsbank; and Vivienne Nguyen, Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

The conversation centred on the International Women’s Day theme, “Break The Bias,” and how that applies to women from multicultural backgrounds in Australia.

“This year’s theme is an important opportunity to consciously examine our biases, recognise the biases that exist preventing equality and inclusion, and break them down,” Ms Kypraios said.

When it comes to gender pay parity, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly worsened the lot of women around the world, with the time required to close the global gender pay gap having increased from 99.5 years pre-pandemic to 135.6 years post-pandemic.

“That’s hard to look at. It’s not my lifetime, it’s not my son’s lifetime,” said Corinne Proske, CEO of Jobsbank, an organisation focused on helping businesses introduce greater diversity and inclusion to their workplaces.

The three women also shared their experiences as women from multicultural backgrounds, who have risen to high levels within their industries.

They said women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds had no choice but to navigate extra challenges, whether they’re first, second, or third generation migrants.

“We don’t just carry our own issues and trauma, we carry our whole community’s,” said Ms Nguyen, referring to the often entrenched biases within migrant families.

“I’m too Australian in my Vietnamese family, and I’m too Vietnamese in my Australian context.”

For her part, Her Honour Nola Karapanagiotidis spoke about her upbringing and said: “It wasn’t expected of me that I would do well.”

Despite this, she has had a formidable two-decade career as a barrister, advocating for refugees and women in the criminal justice system.

Her Honour noted that the outpouring of support from the Hellenic Australian community following her appointment to the County Court bench in 2021 had been both humbling to her, and empowering to those around her.

“I believe it’s because they’re seeing someone that reflects them, that represents them,” she said.

When asked what advice they’d offer to the younger women in the audience, the three panellists offered words of confidence and empowerment.

“Be proud of what you have. What you have is what many others don’t,” said Ms Nguyen, referring to the rich and deep cultural and family connections that many migrants experience.

She encouraged younger women to get to know their culture, take the good things from it, and work to change the bad.

Ms Proske echoed the sentiment, sharing that her grandmother had given her mother the ultimate gift of the opportunity to return to work after having children by taking care of them, and her own mother had done the same for her.

“It’s a gift that you can give within families and multicultural families do that well,” Ms Proske said.

Her Honour Ms Karapanagiotidis offered a rallying call to all the women present: “Be confident. Back yourself. Your diversity is an asset, your community mindedness is an asset, your courage is an asset.”

The sold-out event was supported by HACCI’s Chamber Partner Bank of Sydney, Community Partner Hellenic Power, Corporate Partners Greek Media Group, Intralot Australia, Jobsbank, Patras Group, Prisma Legal, Procal Dairies, and The Content Engine, as well as IWD Event Partners BDO Australia, Flowers Vasette, Moka Foods, Salary Masters, Structural Challenge, Prisma Legal and Thematikos.

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