The Greek Community Club in Lakemba, Sydney, was packed to the brim on Saturday, October 28, as politicians and Greek community leaders came together to celebrate OXI Day with a cultural program and cocktail party.
The annual event was organised by the Greek Orthodox Community of New South Wales (GOCNSW).
A number of official guests attended including the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship & Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles MP; the NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, Work Health and Safety, Sophie Cotsis MP, representing the NSW Premier Chris Minns; the NSW Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Mark Coure MP; Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis; the President of the GOCNSW, Harry Danalis; and the Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris; as well as a number of other Greek community leaders and councillors.
Artemis Theodoris was emcee on the night and began official proceedings with a Welcome to Country by Uncle John Dickson, Aboriginal Elder from Canterbury Bankstown City Council. The National Anthems of Greece and Australia were also sung and a minute’s silence was held for those fighters who lost their lives during WWII.
Throughout the night there were also a number of speeches by official guests, as well as poem recitals, songs and performances by students from the Afternoon and Saturday Schools of GOCNSW at Clemton Park.
Speeches on the night were given by Mr Danalis, Mr Mallikourtis, Bishop Iakovos, Minister Giles, Minister Cotsis and Shadow Minister Coure. All spoke about the importance of OXI Day (NO Day) and it’s importance in the history of Greece.
In his speech, Minister Giles spoke about the history of OXI Day and took the chance to celebrate the enduring contributions of Greek Australians to help build Australia. He also praised the shared history between Greece and Australia.
“OXI Day is a day that demands to be remembered. It marks an important day for Greece, for democracy and also for the deepening of the relationship between Greece and Australia,” Mr Giles told The Greek Herald after the event.
“I was proud to join the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW and hundreds of community members to celebrate OXI Day and the enormous achievements of the Greek Australian diaspora.”
Ms Cotsis explained how Greeks in Australia must always commemorate the sacrifices of those who died for freedom during WWII. She also stressed the importance of future generations of Greek Australians and the role they will play in spreading the history of OXI Day.
Mr Coure spoke of OXI day as a symbol of resistance against oppression and injustice for people of Greek heritage across the world.
The Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism also emphasised the importance of recognising the strong ties between Greece and New South Wales, which is home to over 141,000 people of Greek heritage, and commended their contributions to business, education, arts, sports and beyond.
The speeches ended with a traditional dancing performance by the Greek Dancing Group of the GOCNSW under the direction of dance teacher Paroula Thurban, as well as a cocktail party where people mingled and enjoyed each other’s company.