The Australian Greek Welfare Society’s General Meeting uncovered a new trend this year. With an influx of new Greek migrants, there has been new demand on services and some demand on services that were non-existent. With the relaxing of immigration laws for Greeks, the influx of demand has seen the Society re-open and create new services to meet demand.

Executive Director Voula Messimeri says the requests have led to more provisions being provided to those seeking assistance. “We have experienced a substantial demand for services by people who are new to Australia. AGWS has responded to the needs of this new group in our community by the provision of casework, counselling, emergency relief and the establishment of a free Migration Agent Information and Referral Service,” she says.

It is something President Nicholas Katris sees as surprising, when it looks like history is repeating itself. “The recent influx of migrants… has in many ways seen history repeat itself with AGWS casework services offering assistance to newly arrived-Greek migrants who are presenting with different needs,” he said. The Annual General Meeting was a chance for the President and Executive Director to properly say thanks for the hard work accomplished this year. Both acknowledged the amazing response from the community with their national radiothon raising $85,000, their biggest sum yet.

On top of that, the Society has taken on 259 new Greek speaking elders for their Community Partners Program and seen their Greek Legal Information and Referral Service continue into a 13th year. The Society has also delivered more than 26,000 hours of community and centre based respite care to carers, providing relief from their thankless work. 231 young and old people with disabilities were helped to stay engaged and remain in the community, with a total of almost 49,000 hours given to assist the activity groups in multiple locations.

The Society marked its 40th anniversary this year, showing a dedication to the Greek Community unsurpassed by other organisations. As Mr Katris says, AGWS was created for and is still about “lobbing the rights of migrants and their children and improve services particularly in the areas of education, health, welfare, childcare and language services”.