Honouring Greek Parliamentarians at Melbourne Community’s vibrant gathering

·

By Mary Sinanidis

Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) President Bill Papastergiadis detailed the last-minute efforts undertaken to organise a reception for a whirlwind visit of Greek Parliamentarians at “Fable,” the Greek Centre’s restaurant, on Friday, April 12.

The event was hosted for the delegation of the Hellenic Parliament’s Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Expatriates who came to attend the 25th of March parade, held three weeks after the anniversary date on Sunday, April 14, at Lakeside Stadium at Albert Park. 

Greek guests included former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Constantinos Vlasis, Evangelia Liakousi, Theodora Tzakri, and Asimina Skondra – President, Vice President, and Member of the Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad. Also present from the Greek side were Stavros Venizelos, Ambassador of Greece to Australia, and the Greek Consul General for Victoria, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, with Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis representing Archbishop Makarios of Australia.

Andrew Giles, Lee Tarlamis and Cr Steve Staikos.
Andrew Giles, Lee Tarlamis and Cr Steve Staikos.
Acting Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece is-looking forward to the porkbarrelling now that Greek Melburnians can vote in Greek elections.
Acting Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece is looking forward to the porkbarrelling now that Greek Melburnians can vote in Greek elections.
Asimina Skondra
Asimina Skondra.
Bill Papastergiadis shows a photograph of his mother on the ship to Australia.
Bill Papastergiadis shows a photograph of his mother on the ship to Australia.
Constantinos Vlassis with the new Greek Ambassador Stavros Venizelos and Greek Consul to Melbourne Emmanuel Kakavelakis
Constantinos Vlassis with the new Greek Ambassador Stavros Venizelos and Greek Consul to Melbourne Emmanuel Kakavelakis

High-level attendance due to Greek Community’s clout

Peter Khalil, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, captured the significance of the gathering: “Why do you have two federal ministers, members of the federal parliament, state ministers, the leader of the opposition, the acting lord mayor all in this room? It’s because of how we measure the value, the invaluable contributions of Greek Australians in this country.”

He was referring to Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles, National Disability Insurance Scheme and Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, State Minister Nick Staikos (representing Victoria’s Premier Jacinta Allan), Victoria’s Opposition Leader John Pesutto, South Eastern Metropolitan Region Member Lee Tarlamis, Nina Taylor MP, Acting Minister Nicholas Reece, and a group of councillors from around Melbourne.

The room buzzed with constructive interaction as guests from all levels of government mingled before the upcoming 25th March parade on Sunday. 

Mr Khalil, in his speech, encouraged a closer partnership between Australia and Greece on not only cultural aspects, but also other areas like military and security. The gathering provided a valuable opportunity for introductions and networking.

Constantinos-Vlassis-encouraged-Greek-Australians-to-vote
Constantinos Vlassis encouraged Greek Australians to vote.
Evangelia Liakouli recited Seferis.
Evangelia Liakousi recited Seferis.
Greek Australian local councillors from an-array of municipalities attended the event.
Greek Australian local councillors from an-array of municipalities attended the event.
Guests included leaders of womens groups local councillors and other prominent Greek Australians.
Guests included leaders of womens groups local councillors and other prominent Greek Australians.

Shared history and enduring bonds

During his opening remarks, Mr Papastergiadis emphasised “the enduring bond between Greece and its global diaspora, embodying the spirit of solidarity, collaboration, and mutual respect.” He pointed to the significance of the shared historical journey between Greece and Australians since World War I.

Politicians, regardless of political affiliation, acknowledged the contributions of Greek migrants to Australia. Mr Staikos and Mr Pesutto spoke of the vibrant diaspora, with Mr Staikos highlighting his own roots as a proud Greek Australian. He commended the Greek community for setting an example for other migrant communities.

Mr Pesutto echoed previous sentiments: “It is fitting that we gather in this iconic building on this historic street in our global city. The powerful story of Greek migration has not only shaped our city, but our culture as well. It took courage to leave loved ones and familiar surroundings for a foreign land.”

Mary Lalios converses with Opposition Leader John Pesutto as Nola Radiotis looks on.
Mary Lalios converses with Opposition Leader John Pesutto as Nola Radiotis looks on.
Members of the Greek Community of Melbourne with Asimina Skondra
Members of the Greek Community of Melbourne with Asimina Skondra.
Members of the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne and Victoria with Constantinos Vlassis.
Members of the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne and Victoria with Constantinos Vlassis.
Members-of-womens-associations-including-President-Nola-Radiotis-Anemones-Varvara-Ioannou-Food-for-Thought-Network-and-Mary-Lalios-Hellenic-Womens-Federation-of-Victoria-with-Asimina-Skondra
Members of womens associations including President Nola Radiotis Anemones, Varvara Ioannou Food for Thought Network and Mary Lalios Hellenic Womens Federation of Victoria with Asimina Skondra.

Importance of Greek Australian women

Mr Shorten stated he couldn’t imagine the Australian mosaic without people of Greek heritage – “a fundamental part of Melbourne, Victoria and Australia.” He explained that this was the reason he attended the event, “even briefly.” He reflected on the enduring relationship between Greece and Australia. He acknowledged that the evening extended beyond celebrating the visit or Greek Independence Day to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus.

“In particular, it is great to see that three of the four parliamentary representatives are women. But I think the contribution of Greek Australian migrants in this country cannot be overstated. It is a very important part,” he said.

Present during the evening were leaders of Greek Australian women’s groups, who were pleased to see female representation at typically male-dominated functions. They were Varvara Ioannou, President of the Food for Thought NetworkNola Radiotis from Anemones and Mary Lalios, President of the Hellenic Women’s Federation of Victoria.

“I thought it was amazing that out of the four delegates, three are women. You can’t be what you don’t see, and by seeing these women in these positions, younger women can aspire to reach these positions as well,” Ms Lalios said. 

Minister Andrew Giles speaks of the contribution of the Greek community
Minister Andrew Giles speaks of the contribution of the Greek community.
Plaques were offered to Greek guests following the speeches.
Plaques were offered to Greek guests following the speeches.
parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.

Messages from Greece 

Ms Tzakri said “it is an honour, a duty, and above all, a privilege to uphold the spirit of Greece globally as individuals of Greek origin.”

Ms Liakousi praised the inspiration and passion of the Greek Diaspora, quoting Giorgos Seferis’ 1963 speech when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Ms Skondra said the delegation was there to “listen and take home the messages of the Greek community.” She urged Greek Australians to exercise their right to vote without restrictions.

parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.
parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.
parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.
parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.
parliamentarians
Photo: Costa Deves.
Two-Bills-Bill-Shorten-and-Bill-Papastergiadis.
Bill Shorten and Bill Papastergiadis.

Mr Vlassis MP expressed his gratitude for the warm reception. 

“Our arrival coincides with the establishment of postal voting, a historic political reform facilitating non-Greek residents’ participation in EU elections,” he emphasised, urging participation. 

Acting Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr Nicholas Reece, highlighted Melbourne’s strong ties to Greece. 

“Here in Melbourne, we are the third biggest Greek-speaking city in the world, outside Greece,” he said, before pointing to the significance of the upcoming postal vote of Greek Australians.

“With an election coming up soon in which the electoral roles have changed very much for the positive, we [Melburnians] will be a major point of interest in the upcoming Greek national elections. So, for example, my beautiful wife Felicity Pantelidis who holds a Greek passport will be able to cast a vote in the election as many, many people here tonight will be able to as well.”

He continued in a lighter tone: “So we are looking forward to the pork barrelling, we are looking forward to the promises and the love that we are going to get from the Greek National Parliament here in Melbourne. This is a wonderful thing, is it not? We want to see your love for our city.”

Read The Greek Herald’s separate article this week about what guests had to say about the postal vote, loss of Greek language, Greek-Australian double taxation agreement, workers’ shortage of Greek consulate offices, and Greek National Tourism Organisation offices announced but not yet implemented.

Advertisement

Share:

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH TGH

By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Advertisement

Latest News

Panagia Soumela Monastery: Pilgrimage to the ancient cradle of Pontic Hellenism

Carved into Mount Melas in Trabzon, the Monastery of Panagia Soumela has stood proudly for over 1,600 years.

Memories that ‘bleed’: A visit to the Armenian Genocide Museum

The wine, the conversation with Maria and Aram, all pieces in the puzzle of my stay in Armenia’s capital had been carefully placed.

Australian Business Summit Council launch fifth issue of ‘Ekonomos’

The Australian Business Summit Council Inc. hosted 250 business leaders, diplomats and politicians at its lavish Annual Gala Dinner.

Dora and George Hatzikiriakos’ fish and chip shop among the best on NSW South Coast

The Eurobodalla on the NSW south coast is home to some of the best fish and chip joints. "Harzikiriakos' Ocean Grill is one of them.

Two Greek beaches among Tripadvisor’s top European beaches for 2024

Greece saw two beaches included in Tripadvisor’s Best Beaches in Europe for 2024, as part of its annual Travellers’ Choice Awards.

You May Also Like

Brother-in-law of George Alex charged over ‘fraud, laundering scheme’

Peter Kay, the brother-in-law of Sydney construction identity George Alex, has been charged over an alleged $20 million tax fraud scheme.

Spinalonga: The most astonishing abandoned town in the world

The abandoned island of Spinalonga in Greece has been recognised as one of the most photogenic and haunting places to visit in the world.  

Dr Helen-Anne Manion’s crusade for a ‘good death’: Making it easier for Greeks

Dr Helen-Anne Manion's crusade for a 'good death': Making it easier for Greeks with her translated program.