Members of the Pharos Working Party attended a meeting on Thursday, April 20 with the Victorian Minister for Education, Natalie Hutchins MP, to discuss the Modern Greek Strategic Plan for the revitalisation of the Greek language in Victoria and Australia.
Also discussed during the meeting was the progress of the Pharos sub-committees, and the request for government assistance for a funded position to coordinate the work of Pharos over the next two years.
Mrs Anita Kolaitis, Pharos Working Party Chair and Vice-President of the Modern Greek Teachers’ Association of Victoria, explained that Pharos comprises a broad cross-section of the Greek Australian community and has the united support of all relevant stakeholders.
Mrs Kolaitis noted that Pharos has been approached by other states and other Victorian community language advocacy groups, including VietSpeak, highlighting that the Pharos project could serve as a successful model for other languages.
Mr Theo Markos, advocate for Greek language education in Victoria, updated the Minister and her advisors on the challenges facing state schools offering Greek language programs at primary and secondary levels, the ongoing support of parent networks, the need for qualified language teachers, the cost of living pressures for seconded educators from Greece, and the possible need to revisit an existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Victorian government and the Greek government on matters of education.
Dr Stephie Nikoloudis, Greek Studies coordinator at La Trobe University, emphasised that the detailed Strategic Plan, aimed at ensuring the teaching of Greek and its continued use in Australia beyond the classroom, was developed and is now being implemented under the guidance of Professor Emeritus Joe Lo Bianco, an expert in the field of language education and language revitalisation.
Dr Nikoloudis pointed out that the community-wide campaign that helped to secure the continuation of La Trobe’s Greek Studies program had the widespread support of individuals of both Greek and non-Greek background who value and support a multicultural and multilingual Australia.
The crucial interrelations between all levels of language education (from pre-school to tertiary) were discussed, including the recent success of one of Pharos’ sub-committees in securing state government financial support for Multicultural Story Time at local libraries.
The Minister showed great interest in the work being carried out by Pharos and committed to continuing the discussion with Pharos regarding its Strategic Plan and the revitalisation of Greek.