Albanese government pledges $139,000 towards creation of ‘Anzacs, the Greek Chapter’

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Acting Defence and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh, Member for Wills Peter Khalil and Member for Macnamara Josh Burns gathered at the foot of the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial on Friday to announce $139,000 towards the creation of “Anzacs, the Greek Chapter”. The funding is part of the $1-million Salute Their Service Commemorative Grants program.

Minister Keogh announced $139,000 for the documentary film

The shared history between Greece and Australia is no secret, and it has been documented in books and films. “Anzacs, the Greek Chapter”, however, is not just another documentary, but an evocative work in its own right; surpassing in quality works which are currently available to the public. 

Director Dr Peter Ewer and documentary filmmaker John Irwin will work with historian author, Jim Claven, to fund a high-quality work of 90-minutes duration. The three have already focused on Australian history in Greece and have meticulously gathered footage. As Minister Keogh said, they’ve “done that work already”.

Historian Jim Claven pleased with funding announcement for Anzac documentary

Dr Ewer told the Greek Herald he had already amassed a large number of original materials during research on his book, “Forgotten Anzacs”. “We have 50 to 60 hours of video interview material from veterans and Greek civilians who helped the Anzacs in Greece in 1941,” he said.

What is new is that more footage will be gathered and presented using the latest technology to bring to life the stories. 

Doug Pendergast, president of Oakleigh Carnegie RSL, is supportive of the project. “Our RSL is in the Greek community of Oakleigh, and secondly I’m a veteran from the Malaysian campaign and I feel it is very important to document history in this way, particularly in this forgotten war,” he told The Greek Herald.

Oakleigh Carnegie RSL President and Head of nurses subbranch

Janice McCarthy, President of returned nurses subbranch at Anzac House, told The Greek Herald that the campaign will also tell the story of nurses, a lot of the work done by nurses “is not known”.

Mr Kahlil said the documentary “is going to open up these stories for a whole new generation of Australians in what is a lesser-known chapter of the Anzac story”. 

“Telling these stories of history and being able to commemorate and remember Australians who fought in the Greek campaign and the Greeks who fought in the Greek campaign and the Greek people who saved so many Australians is part of our national story, and an important story to tell,” Mr Kahlil said.

Peter Khalil, Member for Wills, glad that future generations will be educated on this lesser-known period of history

Thanks to the grant available, untold stories will be shared. Minister Keogh said, “we’ve been very fortunate that we have the activity here of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee in bringing forward a project like this and we are, through these grant programs, really reliant on communities coming forward to apply for funding and saying ‘we have a story to tell about our community or this particular aspect of this history of service’.”

“I encourage other organisations focused on other areas of our service history and look forward to this,” Minister Keogh further added.

Mr Keogh said he is sure that the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, with Lee Tarlamis MP at the helm, will work to ensure that the documentary will hit the mark when it comes to educating future generations. He said, “Documentaries like this can be made available online through community organisations, community viewings and showings and making them available because of that online publication to schools.”

Education is important in making younger generations aware so that mistakes such as NSW Premiere Dominic Perrottet’s decision to don a Nazi costume on his 21st birthday would not be repeated. Mr Burns said that he found Mr Perrotet’s decision “astonishing”, “appalling” and “distressing”. 

“I think it was a huge error of judgement,” he said. 

“My family left Nazi Germany in 1938—my grandmother did. Australia has a history of fighting Nazi Germany and, to be honest, Dominic Perrottet understands that.”

The solution, according to Mr Burns, is to increase education. “In Victoria, Holocaust education is compulsory and I’d like to see that in the whole country.” 

The work of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative is also helping build awareness. The group have already worked with a number of schools, including Albert Park College, where thousands of students have walked by the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial which stands just a stroll away from Port Melbourne Pier where thousands of Greek migrants walked their first steps in Australia during the post-war migration boom. 

Standing at the foot of the memorial, Mr Burns casts focus on the importance of the “sacrifices made by those who have servied our country in our armed forces.”

“War memorials just like our own Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, create a sacred place to remember and pay our respects,” he said. 

Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, was not present at the funding announcement but told The Greek Herald that he could not be happier.

“I’m proud of the work of the Lemnos Commemorative Committee and Jim Claven in documenting this important period of the collective history of Greece and Australia. This documentary will assist enormously in adding to our collective understanding of the struggles and difficulties that helped to forge the ties that bind our countries.

“This documentary will allow all of us the chance to hear previously untold stories and view footage not seen by the public. I applaud this announcement and hope it is a starting point for more research and work on this,” Papastergiadis added.

Applications for the ongoing ‘Saluting Their Service’ grants program are currently open, for more information or to submit an application visit the GrantConnect website at grants.gov.au.

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