Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attends OXI Day event in Sydney’s inner west

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Sydney’s Greek community commemorated OXI Day at Marrickville Town Hall on Sunday, October 30 with a special guest appearance by Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

People gathered at the hall in Sydney’s inner west on Sunday to see Mr Albanese and take part in the commemoration event, which was a collaboration between the Inner West Council and the University of Sydney’s Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA).

Starting at 1pm, the event began with an address by Archbishop Makarios of Australia followed by an outdoor wreath laying ceremony.

A number of VIP guests, politicians and dignitaries laid wreaths including Mr Albanese; the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Archbishop Makarios; Federal Member for Barton and Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney; Inner West Mayor, Darcy Byrne; Inner West Councillor, Zoi Tsardoulias; Member for Canterbury, Sophie Cotsis; Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen; Courtney Houssos MLC; Professor Stavros Paspalas from the AAIA; as well as many other representatives from Greek community organisations.

Following this ceremony, attendees moved inside the hall for speeches by the Inner West Mayor, Mr Albanese and Ms Burney. There was also a traditional Welcome to Country by Aunty Deb Lennis and the emcee was Dimitrios Kametopoulos.

In his speech, the Inner West Mayor welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about the impact of OXI Day on post war migration to Australia and Sydney’s inner west.

“We’re here to commemorate the incredible refusal of Greeks and Cypriots to give in to oppression and occupation and degradation and when you think about it, so many people who had lived-in experience of that terrible time were the ones who came here in the first wave of migration to the birthplace of Australian multiculturalism in the inner west of Sydney,” Mayor Byrne said.

“It’s no surprise that they’ve made such an incredible contribution to Australian society when you think about what they had to overcome to get here.”

Next to the podium was Australia’s Prime Minister, drawing loud applause from the crowd. In his speech, Mr Albanese congratulated the organisers of the event and spoke about the history of OXI Day, before touching on the strong ties between Greeks and Australians due to WWII.

“The relationship between Greece and Australia remains a very strong one… it is something that is almost intangible, it is something that is warm, it is something that is natural,” Mr Albanese said.

“At one of my first international events representing Australia at the NATO Summit, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came from across the room.

“He wanted to meet the new Prime Minister of Australia because everyone knows almost one million Greek Australians have come here and you have enriched our great country of Australia with your music, your culture, your language and importantly, your values as the founders of democracy around the world.

“So I pay tribute to the Greek community as a whole today but in particular, I pay tribute to the heroes of OXI Day. The heroes that stood firm, that made sacrifices and who, in the end, were victorious not just for themselves but for the world.”

The last person to speak was Ms Burney. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs spoke about the importance of sharing history and stories amongst the Greek community.

“One of the things that strikes me very much about the Greek culture, about the Greek community is that whilst there is great pride in being Australian, you have taught the rest of us something about the importance of holding onto the story, holding onto culture, holding onto days like today and remembering the history and sharing that with all of us,” Ms Burney said.

At the conclusion of these official speeches, there was an informative panel featuring Australian author, Kate Forsyth; Archaeologist, Dr Michael Bendon; and Sydney University historian, Professor Julia Horne. The panel was moderated by Professor Paspalas from the AAIA.

The event finished off with a dancing performance by students of the Cretan Association of Sydney and NSW’s dancing school.

*All photos by The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

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