Speaking at a philanthropic dinner on Tuesday in Melbourne, organised by The Hellenic Initiative Australia, global chairman of The Hellenic Initiative, Mr Andrew Liveris confirmed his confidence in Greece’s conservative New Democracy Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The Rising to the Challenge – Greece at the crossroads of social change dinner was organised by the Australian chapter of the US-based Hellenic Initiative and hosted by ANZ in Melbourne’s Docklands.
The former Chairman and CEO of corporate giant, Dow Chemical Co and a key figure of the Greek Diaspora, Mr Liveris also spoke at an event held in Sydney on Monday as part of the THI Australia event series.
Mr Liveris spoke in front of leading diaspora figures about the work that the Hellenic Initiative does in assisting Greeks in moving out of the debilitating 10-year financial crisis. He said that the diaspora communities of Australia, the US and Canada have done much to assist Greece, but not enough.
He said that The Hellenic Initiative has done something that has never happened before – unite the many Greek diaspora communities across the globe.
Mr Liveris said that one of the significant elements of the work of The Hellenic Initiative over the last seven years of its existence was to make the “world recognise the positive elements Greece has to offer.”
“Our work will be complete when a significant part of the diaspora believes in us and supports us in our mission in making sure that everyone knows that Greece has much to offer the world.”
Mr Liveris spoke of the diaspora’s desire to see long-term strategic planning and investment in Greece and support for entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in the talented younger generation.
Mr Liveris participated in a broad-ranging one-hour panel discussion with Ms Maria Karra, Co-Founder of Emfasis Foundation and Lena Papalexopoulou, Vice-President of Desmos, two non-profit organisations in Greece supported by The Hellenic Initiative Australia.
Ms Karra’s humanitarian work was focused on the Middle East and Southeast Asia until she co-founded Emfasis Foundation in 2013. Emfasis delivers support to the homeless, rough sleepers and vulnerable groups in Athens – products of Greece’s financial crisis.
Ms Papalexopoulou, an economist, entrepreneur and education advocate seeks to empower Greek youth to become civic-minded and more engaged through the Desmos education program ‘I Care and Act’.
Ms Karra and Ms Papalexopoulou both spoke of the deep impact the crisis has had on Greece’s people particularly the ‘old and young’.
Ms Papalexopoulou emphasised that ‘the reconstruction of Greece has ignited the rebirth of World Hellenism.”
Both speakers spoke of their deep appreciation for the support they received from the Greek diaspora in Australia, which enabled them to make a positive impact on the lives of people in Greece.
Ms Karra also said she was encouraged that, before he was elected, the new Athens Mayor, K. Bakoyannis had wanted to see for himself what was happening on the streets and had volunteered with Emfasis and ‘together with other volunteers went out in Athens one night, found homeless people and talked about their needs.’
Manny Arabatzis. ANZ’s Managing Director of Credit and Capital Management spoke of the “excellent relations the bank has with the Greek community” and his commitment to The Hellenic Initiative.
The Hellenic Initiative Australia President Nicholas Pappas, Chairman of the Bank of Sydney and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, closed the evening by presenting a plaque to Mr Peter Dolkas, formerly ANZ State Director, Corporate Banking (Victoria & Tasmania), in appreciation of his role initiating ANZ’s support for THI Australia.