Australia’s Hellenic community: The road from lethargy to rejuvenation


By Anastasios M. Tamis*

Over the last fifteen years as the ageing of the 1st Generation of Greek immigrants became increasingly apparent and catastrophic, most Greek community organizations slept into a lethargy and a state of weariness. Our activities entered a stall speed; our pursuits and endeavours were curtailed, underrating our priorities and eradicating our ambitious aspirations. During this period of decline our collective entities abandoned their previous vividness, deserted their passion to maintain their national ideologies; halted their cultural activities; theatrical, literary, musical and performing arts became a rare phenomenon.

The Hellenic community accepted (and occasionally saluted) without any constructive protest and serious dissent several imposed decisions to destroy our tertiary research centres, to eliminate a plethora of Chairs of Greek and Hellenic Studies and even Departments of Greek Studies (their number from 15 are now reduced to four, nationally), to abolish studies related to Classical Studies and Greek History (their numbers from 37 are now reduced to eight, nationally, and this is thankfully to the James and Elizabeth Tatoulis initiative in Melbourne).

The national issues pertaining Hellenism now are being treated as “nationalistic outbursts”; the display of love for Greece and its diachronic civilization has not become just obsolete; it is now designated as a “xenophobic arrogance”. The All-Australia Communal links and federated arrangements, since 1946 were re-established and dissolved eleven times since then. Currently, there is not any federated body, any co-ordinating entity to hold together the existing historical communities. This vacuum of collaboration and cohesion between the operating Communities is invalidly usurped  by the Church, which remains the only bond inter-connecting these Communities. Other grandiose shapes and figures of organizations, such as SAE, the Australian Hellenic Council, the Hellenic Congress were reduced to mere romantic and incapacitated entities allured by ambitious personas who lack the resilience of an aspired leader.

Let us now be more specific, outlining only a few areas of concern:

We have set in place in Australia over 1100 registered Greek community organizations, more than 30 Federations of Greek community organizations, at least 11 Co-Federations of the Federated community entities in Australia and at least five Grand (world and planet-wide) World Co-Federations, including the Macedonians, the Cretans, the Pontians, the Thessalians, the Cypriots. Amongst the latter, only the Cypriots deserve and have the agony of such an organization.

In addition, in Australia we have organized multiple of ambitiously founded and operated social classes of clergymen, businessmen, professionals, teachers, unionist, RSL, industrialists, university students and other milieus of economically, socially, and politically motivated Greek entities.

Moreover, we have a manyfold of Greek Bishops, over 120 politicians of Greek ancestry in Australia at local government, State and Commonwealth levels and at least another 20 high-ranking politicians married to Greek spouses.

Furthermore, we have over 1000 keen Philhellenes in posts of influence.

Also, we have an Ambassador, at least five career Consuls and Consuls General, and several Honorary Consuls, in addition to Marine and Commercials consular heads.

Additionally, we have the support and the ardent alliance of another strong team of diplomats, namely the Cyprus High Commission.

What is more, since 1944 we established a plethora of Commerce and Industry Chambers, multiple collective entities supposedly to represent collectively the Greek Communities and its leaders; we temporarily founded and raised collective bodies with grandiose designations, such as Australian Hellenic Council, Council of Hellenes, United Hellenic Alliance.

Moreover, we established Chairs, Lectureships, Departments at fifteen Australian Universities; we founded nine Bilingual Schools across Australia where we had the opportunity to teach and preserve studies related to our history and ethnic identity; we managed to build a robust corpus of Greek legal personalities excelling in the judicial system; we forged nationally and international strong cohorts of prominent scholars, journalists, writers, artists and world-acclaimed actors and cinema directors.

Finally, Australia’s Greeks are the most adaptable settlers, possessing the highest citizenship rate in Australia amongst all other ethnic communities.

Yet, in 2023 have we utilized any of the above resources and socio-economic axioms to benefit our country and Hellenism over the bare minimum? Have we invested these credentials in advancing Hellenism in a systematic, well-organized, and consistent way? Had we ever designed as a group (forget about implementation) any ethnic, cultural sequencer, any socio-political driver, placing in a concrete fashion where we are and what do we wish to achieve now and in the future? Did we had ever any platform, any plan, or agenda?

Is there any serious course of communication between the Hellenic Diaspora and the Metropolis? Had we ever organized any conference, congress or even a colloquium to overview the current rubric of our internal affairs via-a-vis our bond, rapport, or even affiliation with the Grecian Greeks? When was the last time that we had a genuine appraisal of our “national issues” in Australia? Are we happy with the current idleness and indifference that had incapacitated our collective ability? Are we content with the mode, options, and settings of the currently disseminated leadership fashion? The existing exceptions of robust leadership shown in some cities of Australia, including Melbourne, are mainly related to persons and their keen passion in promoting Hellenism.

All and each of our leaders must undertake his/her share and try to abort from the fallacy that we are well organized.

It is time, to acknowledge the self-imposed constraints, to understand our congenial abilities, our potential as a persuasive and instrumental ethnic group and try to rejuvenate our human resources in posts of leadership and influence; it is appropriate to invigorate our aspirations, to revive the past aggressive attitude towards the maintenance and the dissemination of our culture. Our continuing apathy and dispiritedness if will be allowed to prevail in the years to come we shall lament not only the collapse of our ability to maintain our identity but also will lead to the eradication of all those significant achievements that past generation of Hellenes, with lesser ammunitions, managed to accomplish.

We need to display cohesive attitudes and utilize affectively every aspect of the communal strength; abandon the useless personal polemics; build open channels of communication between the different providers; clearly define the course of our endeavored aspirations; build strong and undisputed filters of co-ordination; engage people who have both social and know-how standard of displacement; set aside old prejudice and commence from ground zero, widening the objectives and ambitions. The key word is “Hellenism”, and its relation to the development of the current world.

READ MORE: Expatriate Vote: The journey of expatriate Greeks continues – Greek Herald

*Professor Anastasios M. Tamis taught at Universities in Australia and abroad, was the creator and founding director of the Dardalis Archives of the Hellenic Diaspora and is currently the President of the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies (AIMS).




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