Dr Panayiotis Diamadis was recently named Joint Winner of the 2012 Ron Rathbone Local History Prize. With his winning entry titled ‘Hellenism by the Bay: Hellenic Presence in the City of Rockdale’. With his strong interest in Australian Hellenic history it wasn’t hard for Dr Diamadis as a researcher to explore the deep connection of the local government area with Hellenism.

Newly-elected Rockdale Mayor, Councillor Shane O’Brien announced and presented Dr Diamadis with the prize at a presentation ceremony on Saturday in Sydney. The work is first of its kind specifically looking at the Australian Hellenic community of the geographic area of the City of Rockdale as it stands in 2012. The aim of the prize is to foster the research and writing of local history, and was inaugurated in 2006 to honour former Mayor, Councillor and historian Ron Rathbone OAM.

 The guidelines for the entrants was to submit a piece of original research on any aspect of the Rockdale Local Government Area – its history, buildings, organisations, people, parks, natural features or events. Dr Diamadis focused on the human dimension, including a range of venues offering Hellenic cuisine, facilities used by Australian Hellenic community organisations and the monuments that commemorate people, places and also the events held in Rockdale connecting the area with Hellenism.

Another focus was the Hellenic toponyms to be found throughout the area, and the legacy of the pursuit of athletic excellence, first developed by the ancient Hellenes millennia ago. The broader St George region is home to the most concentrated Hellenic community in the country. According to the 2011 Census, with 9.4 per cent of the population (8,664 people) speaking Hellenic (Greek), the dominant language spoken at home, after English.

‘Hellenism by the Bay’ presents the relationship between Hellenism and the City of Rockdale since the earliest days of European settlement in the area. The winning entry ‘Macedonia’s lost decade’ is being prepared for publication in early 2013.