Hellenism on proud display at Australia’s Parliament House to mark Greek National Day

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Greek communities from across Australia gathered alongside politicians at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, March 27 as its halls turned blue and white to mark Greek Independence Day.

The inaugural cocktail party event was hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Greek Australians and Greece in the Great Hall and was attended by more than 300 people.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece

Official guests included Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton; Greece’s Alternate Interior Minister, Theodoros Livanios; Greece’s new Ambassador to Australia, Stavros Venizelos; Archbishop Makarios of Australia; Federal Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles; Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney; and NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis MP; among many others.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece

Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Greek Australians, the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil MP and Federal Member for Sturt, James Stevens MP, were also present, alongside the Federal Member for Adelaide, Steve Georganas MP and Senator Hollie Hughes, respectively the Co-Chair and Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Greece.

Parliamentary Friends is an Australian Federal Parliament non-partisan initiative for MPs and Senators to support and celebrate common interest areas. Wednesday night’s event brought together two groups to celebrate the Greek and Australian connection, and to recognise the significant contribution of the Greek Australian community to the nation.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece

Following some mingling between guests – which included Greek and Cypriot community leaders from places such as South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory – official proceedings kicked off with speeches by Ms O’Neil, Mr Albanese, Mr Dutton, Senator Hughes, Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Mr Stevens, and Mr Georganas.

In her speech, Ms O’Neil, who represents the electorate of Hotham in Victoria, said she was really lucky and privileged to work in an area with a large Greek population. She also thanked the Zaparas family from Zaparas Lawyers in Victoria who helped make the night possible.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece
Photo copyright: Nick Bourdaniotis / GCT.

“They are the absolute best example of what this generation of young Greek Australian leaders is doing for our beautiful country,” she said.

The Australian Prime Minister spoke next and said “the connection between Australia and Greece is as deep as it is warm, and where better to celebrate the contribution than in the home of Australian democracy, given the history of democracy and the role that Greece has played in it.”

Mr Albanese also spoke of his strong connection to Marrickville in Sydney and mentioned the precinct in the Inner West called ‘Little Greece.’

parliamentary friends of greece

In his speech, the Federal Opposition Leader Mr Dutton commended the Greek community for their contributions in all spheres of Australian society.

“Thank you for the contribution that you and your families have made in very different ways since the 19th century in our country,” Mr Dutton said.

“It is a wonderful contribution that people of Greek heritage have made to our country – people who have worked hard and made sacrifices to come here with nothing, people who have educated their children, people who have led a life that could never have been imagined three or four generations ago. The fact that people still celebrate their heritage and their culture is incredibly important not just for this generation but for generations to come.”

federal parliament greek independence day

Archbishop Makarios of Australia spoke of the double celebration that is celebrated on March 25th – Greek Independence Day and the Annunciation of the Theotokos. He also mentioned the centenary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and gave a history on how Greek Orthodoxy has evolved in Australia over the years.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece

Federal Member for Adelaide, Mr Georganas acknowledged the heroes and heroines of the 1821 Greek Revolution and said it would be a pity if Greeks in Australia lost the Greek culture when Greeks who were under Ottoman occupation for 400 years were still able to maintain their Greek heritage and fought to keep it alive.

With the conclusion of official proceedings, guests were treated to traditional Greek music and dances by the Canberra Hellenic Dancers. Everyone, including the politicians, were up and dancing the night away.

parliamentary friends of greece
parliamentary friends of greece

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