The year that was, the year that’s ahead

While Greece was hit with harsh austerity measures this year, Diaspora communities in Australia kept expanding onwards and upwards. Hellenic festivals around the country once again attracted strong numbers and impressive new buildings are on the way for Victoria and New South Wales.

Enrolments for the study of Modern Greek remained level, while parents and students won a battle to retain the language at Wales Street Primary School in inner Melbourne.

Neos Kosmos collected 25,052 signatures on a petition to include Modern Greek in the National Curriculum.

We subsequently reported the language will be on the curriculum, to be developed next year.

We spoke to community leaders from around Australia, asking them for the highlight of the year, and a forecast for what lies ahead.

President of the National Union of Greek Australian Students, Lex Georgiou says:

Highlight: It has to be the 40th anniversary ball, celebrating the fact that our great organisation has been going for so long with such a proud legacy.

Forecast: I’m looking forward to unifying everyone even more, so it’s not just all the individual states working separately, but we’re all working together.

President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV), Bill Papastergiadis says:

Highlight of 2010: There were two. Firstly the completion of works at Alphington Grammar, which included construction of a multipurpose hall and eight new classrooms, totalling a cost of $6.5 million, and secondly getting the green light for the new cultural centre in Melbourne.

Forecast for 2011: To commence the process for construction of the new cultural centre on Lonsdale Street.

President of the Australian Greek Welfare Society, Nicholas Katris says:

Highlight of 2010: We at AGWS are proud of the accomplishments and the high standards attained this year, which included delivering aged and disability services; family and community services, including generalist casework; children’s services with bilingual and multicultural programs; and education and training services.

Forecast for 2011: Some of the priorities and challenges to the health and welfare needs of the Greek community in 2011 include mapping of community needs; responding to the need for aged care services, including Home and Community Care, Respite and Dementia Programs; and increasing our capacity to respond to the needs of the Greek community through regionalisation, and in particular through the establishment of a purpose-built facility in the southern region of Melbourne.

President of the Modern Greek Teachers’ Association of Victoria, Manthos Kokkinakis says:

Highlight of 2010: The Victorian conference we had in May, which was something we hadn’t done for a while. Also the MGTAV was one of only ten Victorian groups represented in Sydney for a conference on the National Curriculum.

Forecast for 2011: We look forward to Modern Greek being developed along with Arabic and Vietnamese for the National Curriculum.

CEO of Fronditha Care, Penny Michael says:

Highlight of 2010: Beginning construction work at Thornbury for a 90-bed facility, receiving 60 additional bed licenses for Clayton, and a capital loan and expanding community services programs, especially for elderly with the onset of dementia.

Forecast for 2011: Talking to community about the needs for care for the elderly.

President of the Cyprus Community of NSW, Michael Christodoulou says:

Highlight of 2010: Getting approval from the Marrickville Council to go ahead with the $20 million upgrade to the community’s existing site, which will include construction of 56 units for retirees, a piazza with cafes, restaurants, a gallery and refurbishments to the existing building. This will secure the future of the Cypriot community of NSW for 50 years.

Forecast for 2011: Beginning the building works with the DA.

President of the Cypriot Community of WA, Demetri Demosthenous says:

Highlight of 2010: Our communication channels have been excellent, it’s been web-oriented, data-oriented, because it’s so easy to lose that. Also the 60th anniversary of the Cypriot independence – we had a very big dinner dance and that was a big thing for us.

Forecast for 2011: The Commonwealth Talks are happening in Perth next year, and we’ve had 90 percent confirmation that the President of Cyprus will be coming to Perth for that.

General Manager of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George Brisbane, Andrew Tambakis says:

Highlight of 2010: The Greek ambassador came here, which was the first time he came up to Brisbane. And we had some very big concerts up here, such as Ramos and Anna Vissi.

Forecast for 2011: We’ve just had a planning meeting for our annual Paniyiri, which is the largest two-day festival in Queensland, showing off all that’s Greek.

President of the Greek Orthodox Community of North Australia, John Nicolakis says:

Highlight of 2010: We are in the final stages of creating an aged care facility, which we’ve been working on for the past four years, we’ve done renovations to the Greek school hall, completed a $160,000 upgrade to the soccer oval, taken our Greek community veteran soccer club to Greece, and we held this year’s Glendi, which was phenomenal and was attended by around 40,000 – half the population of Darwin.

Forecast for 2011: We’ve already started organising our Glendi for June next year, we’re hoping to take the soccer club to America, and we’re preparing for the Pan Hellenic Games, which will be held in Darwin next year and will see 500 to 600 athletes from all over Australia and New Zealand attend.

President of the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia, Vassilis Elovaris says:

Highlight of 2010: The highlight was celebrating our 80 years of existence. We’re proud to be celebrating 80 years, and still be able to provide programs and services to the Greek community here.

Forecast for 2011: We’re looking forward to extending our programs and services, and also to releasing our book on the 80 years of our existence, which should be out in January.