Greek Australian’s have access to PM
Nine new Ministerial Consultative Committees will give ethnic communities direct access to the Australian PM and cabinet
The Gillard Government is strengthening its relationship with the migrant population of Australia by offering direct access of the multicultural communities of Australia to the prime minister and members of the cabinet.
The minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, announced this week the formation of nine Ministerial Consultative Committees - African, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, Spanish Speaking, Sub-Continent and Vietnamese - that will facilitate direct dialogue with the government on key issues.
The key objective of the representative committees will be to prioritise the needs of their respective communities, raise these issues twice a year in meetings with the minister of Immigration and minister for Multiculturalism, Kate Lundy.
The government will also hold an annual forum that will facilitate direct access of these committees to the prime minister and other senior members of the government.
The Greek Ministerial Consultative Committee will comprise ten select members of the community to be co-chaired by Maria Vamvakinou, federal member for Calwell, and Steve Georganas federal member for Hindmarsh.
"I am delighted that the Australian Government has sought to engage at a high level and in a meaningful way with the Greek Community because it is a real reflection of the value that is placed on the contributions of Greek Australians in culture, language, heritage and community in our nation" said Mr Georganas.
"Maria and I have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure that the Greek-Australian Community is heard and recognised for their contributions. This committee will provide a powerful new channel through which we can work to make sure that continues".
Ms Vamvakinou said she was delighted to co-chair the Greek Ministerial Consultative Committee with her colleague and friend Steve Georganas.
"This represents a fantastic opportunity for the Greek-Australian Community to progress the issues concerning it and to have its voice heard during some of the most important public issues and debates that we will be facing in the future. Steve and I are very much looking forward to getting started on the important initiative," Ms Vamvakinou said.
Mr Georganas told Neos Kosmos that no national government has ever attempted to facilitate direct dialogue with the multicultural communities.
"This is a ground breaking initiative", he said. "No government has ever attempted to facilitate direct dialogue with the migrant population of our country and the Gillard Government must be commended for its unwavering interest for the enhancement of multiculturalism and the improvement of services to the non English speaking members of our society."
Mr Georganas added that the Greek Ministerial Consultative Committee "will identify the issues affecting the community and the issues the community would like to raise with the government. Ideally it will become a channel of direct communication with the leadership of the government with anticipated substantial benefits".
Maria Vamvakinou and Steve Georganas agree the committee "must be representative of the entire community and consist of the most knowledgeable and most skilful members of the Greek community, in order for the community to maximise the benefits from its direct access to the political leadership of the land".
Community leaders also hail the initiative as an opportunity to establish our credentials as trend setters in professional dealing with the government and extract maximum benefits from the process.
The president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney and New South Wales Mr Harry Danalis believes the initiative "is a very good step" and warns the practical value of the Ministerial Consultative Committee will depend on the quality and the reputation of the people the community will select to represent it.
"It is a very good idea worthy of serious consideration by the community, because it gives us direct access to the prime minister and other members of the government.
"In my view its practical value for our community will depend entirely on the quality and the reputation of the people we will select to represent us in our dealings with the government," he said.
"Our representatives must have full knowledge of community needs, skill and experience in handling these issues and proven track record. I mean that ourselves, as community, and the government as the creator of the plan must focus on the best qualified, not the better known members of the Greek community. We must avoid at all cost the mistakes of the past.
"Our representatives to this committee must have direct relationship with the community and total knowledge of its needs" Mr Danalis insisted.
The president of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Vasilis Papastergiadis, lauds the decision by the Gillard Government as "excellent initiative" ensuring direct access to the prime minister and the cabinet.
"It is an excellent initiative, because it gives migrant communities direct access to the leadership of the federal government" Mr Papastergiadis declared.
"Often our messages to the government get lost in the maze of the bureaucracy, because we do not know the competent government officials we should address them to, nor the process of reaching these officers. As a result the response of the government to our messages is belated and inconsequent".
Direct dialogue with the government will facilitate the productive exchange of ideas and views and will eliminate costly delays in accommodating essential needs of the multicultural communities.
"As regards to the Greek Ministerial Advisory Committee, we are of the view it must be a representative body of our community comprising the cream of experts in managing our affairs" he said.
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