Winds of change: ‘Leading our Community’ group seeks election to future-proof GOCSA


A group of fifteen members under the name ‘Leading our Community’ and led by the treasurer of Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA), Peter Gardiakos, keeps gaining momentum ahead of the upcoming board election on Sunday, December 11. 

With a majority of eight females to seven males – a first in GOCSA’s history – the group aspires to upkeep the organisation’s values and overhaul its strategic plan in order to “adapt to society’s everchanging challenges and maximise new opportunities.”

“The sad passing of our late president Bill Gonis was felt by us all. Bill will be remembered for his limitless contribution to the Greek Community, his efforts to represent GOCSA throughout Australia and his kind and friendly disposition with everyone,” reads the letter circulated among members of the Community after the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Sunday, November 13.

The AGM was attended by more than 300 members including South Australian Chief Justice Chris Kourakis, former Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Pallaras and other prominent members of the Greek Australian community. 

Now Gardiakos with his group, that includes the late Bill Gonis’ son, Peter; have promised to bring change after years of division and uncertainty. 

“Over the last many years, we haven’t learned from the past, and we’ve hung onto things that have affected us or divided us in the community for one or two particular reasons. My intention is to once again unite the community,” he told The Greek Herald

“I want to have a strategic plan with the goal to bring back our youth because they are our future,” Gardiakos said, explaining that previous boards had only short-term plans that were not appealing to younger generations. 

“We need to start where we want to head, and we need to have a plan,” he said.

Peter Gardiakos. Photo: supplied

Asked what his group’s position is on a potential integration with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Gardiakos made clear that “this is a difficult issue that needs to be addressed at some point in time” but not a priority.

“My purpose now is to strengthen the foundations, to bring back the youth, bring back equal agenda, bring back transparency and bring back open dialogue so that we can ask the members what they want from their board,” he said.

Speaking about the challenges they expect to face in the future should their team get elected, Gardiakos and Peter Gonis agree that the biggest one will be to regain the trust of members.

“For a long time, members have felt ignored, or undervalued, or not appreciated. Because what they see is the same people in the background, whether it be supervisory, or electoral, or in the boardrooms,” Gonis said.

“We want to show people that this is a new stepping stone for the community. We want our members to come forward and feel that they will be listened to. We want to be an inclusive board, an inclusive community that values everyone. This is the only way we can move forward.”

The group also aspires to become a more vibrant part of South Australia’s multicultural community and realign their services to accommodate the needs of other community groups.

“We’ve got a nursing home which we call ‘Ridleyton Greek Home for the Aged’ and we have been thinking that the ‘Greek’ is not needed there because we need to become more inclusive. We want everyone to feel welcome,” said Gardiakos.

“We’re at a stage where we need to adapt to succeed. And I think right now that’s more important than ever,” Gonis added. 

The ‘Leading Our Community’ group consists of the following members: Helen Chrisakis, Chloe Germanos Kourakis, Hellas Lucas, John Ninos, Stephanie Skordas, Philip Galantomos, Peter Gonis, Anastasia Mavrides, Peter Psaroulis, George Vasilias, Peter Gardiakos, Alexandra Scounos Sifis, Eleni Mermingis, Smaro Skordas, Aki Economos Zenios




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