Leader of the Labor Party Bill Shorten announced on Tuesday that “a Labor government that I lead will match funding for the Greek Centre Hub and the Hellenic Chair in Global Diasporas at the University of Melbourne”.

President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), Bill Papastergiadis welcomed the announcement.

“Our organisation applauds the announcement made by the opposition leader, Mr Bill Shorten, to match the $5 million grant made by the federal government. The bipartisan support of the two major parties towards the Greek Community of Melbourne is reflective of their commitment to our community,” he said.

Mr Shorten highlighted that “Labor has long enjoyed a close relationship with Victoria’s Greek community,” which he said would continue if he is elected on 18 May.

“Australia is a vibrant multicultural society and Greek Australians have been an integral part of this for many years,” Mr Shorten added.

In continuation, Mr Shorten commended Victoria’s Greek community for “generously sharing their heritage, tradition and culture with Victorians, and Labor will always reciprocate this by supporting your community in any way we can”.

Furthermore, in relation to two proposals put forward by the GCM, Mr Shorten praised them as “wonderful initiatives that will provide a focal point for the Greek community and help to strengthen Greek language and culture in Victoria. I am very pleased to support these wonderful initiatives”.

Mr Papastergiadis in response noted that “it is evident that on practically all of the major issues confronting Greek Australians, the approaches of the GCM are met with active support. Many of our programs including our 15-storey cultural centre would not have been completed without their support”.

Peter Khalil MP, Federal Member for Wills, remarked that “the Greek Australian community has shared their vibrant history and culture with Australia and our society is so much richer for their contribution. That is why I am so pleased that a Shorten Labor Government, if elected, will fund the Greek Centre Hub at the University of Melbourne”.

Mr Papastergiadis added that “Australia is clearly a global leader in their support for our communities including the GCM. Equally, the foundations of multiculturalism underpin this deep support and ensure that the harmony and respect in our community is not achieved by chance but rather solid and continuous governmental initiatives”.

In relation to the $5 million grant, the GCM Board firmly believes the first initiative of funding a Hellenic Chair and Diaspora studies is of particular significance, allowing for the completion of educational programs across all levels of study.

“By initiating a world class university program, we build on the terrific work undertaken at preschool, primary and secondary levels. It completes the educational picture and will ensure that our language remains alive in Australia. Equally, the university program will have a broad focus beyond simply the teaching of the Greek Language but will include aspects of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism to ensure that students will be attracted to this program who do not have a Greek background,” said Mr Papastergiadis.

The second aspect of Mr Shorten’s announcement matches the support of the state government towards a new centre in the city.