Australia Day 2024: Honours list acknowledges contributions of Greek Australians

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At least 13 Greek Australians have been recognised by the Governor General today for the 2024 Australia Day Honours List

A total of 1,042 Australians were recognised in this year’s awards. They were awarded in three categories – Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), Meritorious awards and recognition for Distinguished and Conspicuous awards. 

Included in this list, 49 recipients were also recognised for their contribution in support of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the COVID-19 Honour Roll.

The Governor-General congratulated all Australians who were recognised in today’s honours list.

“Recipients have made a difference and had an impact at the local, national and/or international level. Individually, they are inspiring and collectively they speak to the strength of our communities,” the Governor-General said. 

“Recipients come from all parts of the country. They have served and had an impact in just about every field you can imagine; their stories and backgrounds are diverse. We value their service, thank them for their hard work and selflessness and, today, celebrate them.”

The Greek Herald spoke to some of the Greek Australians and philhellenes who were recognised, to find out what they were recognised for and how it feels for them to receive these awards. 

In the Order of Australia category:

Emeritus Professor Deborah Gale Theodoros AOQLD  

Emeritus Professor Deborah Gale Theodoros AO has been recognised this Australia Day for her distinguished service to community health, rehabilitation sciences, and tertiary education.

Ms Theodoros has had numerous roles with the University of Queensland since 1995, which most recently include being the Emeritus Professor for the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

The Greek Australian has also been involved with Speech Pathology Australia since 1977, has had roles in the National Health and Medical Research Council, produced several publications and is heavily involved in the community.

“I feel very honoured and humbled to receive this award,” Ms Theodoros said.

“I am delighted that this award raises the profile and value of the speech pathology profession and rehabilitation sciences.”

Varvara Athanasiou Ioannou. Photo: Supplied.

Varvara Athanasiou Ioannou AM, VIC   

Varvara Athanasiou Ioannou AM has made a valuable contribution to her community in Victoria.

She founded the Food for Thought Network in 2001, has been a member of the Member, Access, and Equity Committee of Manningham City Council from 2014-2017 and 2018-2021, has had board, presidential, and secretarial roles in various Greek councils and associations and women’s networks and groups, has a degree in education, has released several publications, and has taken on various roles in the professional sector.

Ms Ioannou told The Greek Herald how she felt to be recognised for her service.

“I never expected to receive an award for what I love doing. This award is a validation of my voluntary work, inspiring a continued and impactful journey,” Ms Ioannou said.

“I am certainly thrilled and deeply honoured to be recognised, especially under the 2024 International Women’s Day theme, “Inspire Inclusion.” Since my arrival in Australia, I’ve tirelessly advocated for the benefits of diversity and inclusion.

“I hope my journey inspires others to contribute to a more inclusive world.”

Mrs Ellen Diane Casimaty OAM. Photo: Supplied.

Ellen Diane Casimaty OAM, TAS 

Mrs Ellen Diane Casimaty OAM, who goes by Diane Casimaty, is another individual recognised for her honourable contributions to the community in Australia. She is a proud philhellene who married a Greek man.

She has been volunteering her time at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery since 1994, founded the Colour Circle Painting Group in 1967, was the former president of the Art Society of Tasmania, and has been a life member since 2006, as well as an art tutor since 1985.

Mrs Casimaty was also the former president and secretary of the Bream Creek Branch of the Australian Red Cross.

Although she is retired, she loves to continuously engage with the art scene.

“I have been a tour guide with the Tasmanian Museum for almost 30 years and am a life member of the Art Society of Tasmania too,” Mrs Casimaty said.

“I feel that art has so much healing for people with life worries.”

She expressed being overwhelmed to receive the award, “as I am such an ordinary person with an enjoyment for teaching and talking about art.”

“My art practice is a help to me, especially now I am widowed.”

Peter George Christopher
Peter George Christopher. Photo: Supplied.

Peter George Christopher OAM, SA      

Mr Peter George Christopher from South Australia has been recognised for his service to community history.

He is the Co-Director of the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide and a former member of the Loch Vennachar Expedition, alongside the Society of Underwater Historical Research/South Australian Archaeology Society.

Since 1967, he has been a scuba diver and Volunteer Maritime Archaeologist, maintaining a long-standing association with the Underwater Explorers Club of South Australia, where he served as its President in 1972 and 1973 and continues as a current patron.

One of the Greek Australian’s notable achievements includes receiving the Commonwealth Government Award for Maritime Archaeology in 1982. Additionally, he has authored nine published books.

The Greek Cypriot man, passionate about maritime history and research, expressed his honour at being recognised in this year’s honours list.

“It’s pretty humbling to be recognised,” Mr Christopher said.

“To get to work on things I’m interested in and to be involved in the maritime history side of things for many, many years and have others recognise my work and contributions make it all worthwhile.”

Elias Doufas
Elias Doufas OAM. Photo: Supplied.

Elias Doufas OAM, VIC

Elias Doufas OAM has been recognised for his service to the Greek community of Victoria.

The Greek Australian has played significant roles in the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, serving as Company Secretary, National President from 2011 to 2014, and holding positions including State President and Secretary since 1973.

He has also served as treasurer and secretary in the Greek school and has been involved with the Australasian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association since 2010. His contributions extend to various Greek community roles, including Treasurer for the Gold Coast Greek Community and the Australian Greek Welfare Society.

Mr Doufas, who owns The Loyalty Group and has managed childcare and aged care facilities in his lifetime, said he felt honoured to receive an award this Australia Day.

“I feel really proud to be recognised,” Mr Doufas said.

“I have never been awarded something like this before. In the past, I have been recognised for excellence of service in AHEPA, and I’ve received awards for Fronditha and Pronia, which I helped initiate back in the ’70s. To receive recognition from the Australian government now is such an honour.”

Peter Leondaritis
Peter Leondaritis. Photo: Supplied.

Peter Leondaritis OAM, NSW  

Peter Leondaritis OAM has had extensive involvement in the Greek community.

He has served as the former President and been a Foundation Member of the Pan-Arcadian Federation of Australia since 1986. He was also the former President of the Pan-Arcadian Association of New South Wales, where he has been a member since 1967.

Mr Leondaritis has also held positions such as Executive Committee Member for the Federation of Hellenic Associations, Vice-President for the Macquarie University Greek Studies Foundation from 1996 to 2017, and is currently a member of the Peloponnesian Associations.

Upon being contacted by The Greek Herald for comment, he was informed about his inclusion in the list of honours. His response was heartfelt and emotional as he expressed, “This award is a great honor for my 56 years of service to my community.”

Constantine Pagonis.
Constantine Pagonis. photo: Supplied.

Constantine Pagonis OAM, VIC  

Constantine Pagonis OAM from Blackburn Victoria has been awarded for his service to the multicultural community of Victoria. 

Mr Pagonis is a dedicated leader in both the multicultural and arts sectors in Melbourne. He has an extensive history of volunteer work and working in professional roles which include working in the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and being involved in the Welcoming Cities Initiative. 

The Greek Australian, he has actively participated in school councils, volunteered for community projects, served as a Multicultural Policy Advisor for the Municipal Association of Victoria, and contributed as a volunteer curator, supporting multicultural arts initiatives.

Expressing his surprise at receiving the award, Mr Pagonis stated, “Like most people who get recognition, you don’t do it for that reason. For most of my career, I was working with migrants and refugees, and I focused on managing settlement programs for migrants.”

“Now I am 72, and I hope that with this recognition, it will give me a new burst of life to continue volunteering in this area of promoting social cohesion with migrants from different cultural backgrounds and supporting organisations to help settle them,” he added.

Yvonne Panagacos.
Yvonne Panagacos. Photo: Supplied.

Yvonne Panagacos OAM, VIC 

Evdokia Yvonne Panagacos OAM, known as Yvonne, is another Greek Australian recognised for her service to the Greek community of Melbourne.

She has been heavily involved in the Lyceum Club in Melbourne, where she has undertaken several presidential, vice-presidential, and convenor roles, to name a few, and has been a member since 1977.

Mrs. Panagacos also held many other significant titles in Victoria, including founding president of the Kastellorizian Council of Australia from 2013-2017 and president of the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria from 2010-2014.

She was also vice president and head of middle school at Alphington Grammar School from 1999-2009, a board member for the Dodecanesian Federation of Australia, and has been a traditional iconographer since 2010.

She said it was such a surprise to receive the award.

“I have worked with some of the most amazing people from all walks of life and I’m so grateful to everyone, including my family and my husband for supporting and encouraging me along the journey,” Mrs Panagacos said.

“I have been awarded for smaller, incidental things, but I’ve never received something like this before, so it feels really special.”

Jim Claven
Jim Claven. Photo: Supplied.

Jim Claven OAM, VIC  

James Andrew Claven, known as Jim Claven from Oakleigh, Victoria, has been awarded for his service to veterans, and to community history. He is a proud philhellene who has been recognised in this year’s awards.

Although he is not of Greek heritage, he is an active and proud philhellene.

Mr. Claven is a dedicated member of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, serving as Secretary since 2012 and contributing to projects like the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial Statue and the Australian Pier Memorial. He actively participates in ex-service commemoration activities, organizing events and managing ANZAC memorials in Greece.

Mr. Claven is associated with various veterans’ organizations globally, holds memberships, and is involved in historical projects and oral history recording.

As a proud Philhellene, Mr. Claven said he has been researching and working on the Hellenic link to Australia’s Anzac story for over a decade now.

He told The Greek Herald receiving the award is “an honour for all the veterans, their families, and Hellenes – in Australia, Greece, and beyond – who have shared their stories with me, who’ve supported my work over many years”.

“As a migrant myself, I believe that the honour is also due to my late parents, Margaret and Jim,” Mr. Claven said.

In the Meritorious category:

Nicholas Magriplis.
Nicholas Magriplis. Photo: Supplied.

Nicholas Magriplis PSM, NSW

Nicholas Magriplis PSM has been recognized in the Meritorious awards category for his outstanding public service to public education and in the COVID-19 Honour Roll for his delivery of COVID-19 related services.

Mr. Magriplis is a dedicated educator who has put in 30 years of service toward south-western Sydney’s disadvantaged school communities and has shown exceptional leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t necessarily conceive of my motivation being something that’s to do with my job, but rather something that’s just intrinsic to my values, and those values were instilled very much from my parents – in terms of a really firm belief in a fair go, equity and compassion,” Mr. Magriplis said.

“And because my parents always subscribed to that, as migrants who came to Australia… to me, it was just a natural predisposition that has informed what I love doing – which is enabling and supporting schools and leaders shoulder to shoulder.

“This is why I feel shocked and humbled by it because to me it’s not necessarily a remarkable thing, but rather a very much natural thing to me as it’s how I see the world and it shows what I stand for.”

John Katakouzinos.
John Katakouzinos. Photo: Supplied.

John Katakouzinos AFSM, VIC   

Mr. John Katakouzinos AFSM of Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) has made significant contributions to fire services and communities Australia-wide.

He has a 32-year fire service history, which began in Victoria in 1991 when he became a volunteer firefighter in Springvale. He became employed as a career firefighter in March 1999.

Mr Katakouzinos, who is the Commander of Aviation at CFA Headquarters, rose from a frontline firefighter to assistant chief fire officer, showcasing his exceptional leadership. He is known for one of his great achievements of developing a ground-breaking flight simulator. 

Mr Katakouzinos has gained recognition for his substantial contributions to fire services. His distinguished career underscores his dedication to innovation, safety, and community service. 

The Commander State Aviation for CFA said he felt truly honoured and humbled by this recognition. 

“I am so grateful for the opportunities CFA and FRV have given me,” Mr Katakouzinos said.

“I could not have achieved this without the support of my family and work friends who have been there for me every step of the way.”

Costa Katsikis
Costa Katsikis. Photo: Supplied.

Costa Katsikis AFSM, VIC

Throughout his 34-year career with Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and its predecessor, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Costa Katsikis AFSM has consistently prioritised community and firefighter safety.

Mr Katsikis has been serving since 1988, handling many emergencies, including the East Gippsland bushfires (2019-2020) and has showcased exceptional crisis management skills.

The Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Central District Operations has a passion for educating, mentoring, and developing operational employees whilst promoting gender equality, improving the state’s emergency response capability, and advocating for the prevention of violence against women.

The admirable man continues to push for positive cultural change in the Victorian community.

Jenny Gianakis
Jenny Gianakis. Photo: Supplied.

Jenny Gianakis AIM, Federal  

Ms Jenny Gianakis AIM (Australian Intelligence Medal) was also awarded in the Meritorious awards category.

The Greek Australian has been involved in Defence Australia for the last 2.5 years and is currently working as a Business Manager for the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation.

In a post on her LinkedIn profile, she shared that “The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) plays an important role in supporting the Australian Defence Force to achieve superior combat effectiveness and decision-making through the provision of authoritative geographic data, called Foundation Data”.

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