According to an official announcement made last Thursday night by Greek Australian SA Treasurer, Tom Koutsantonis, at a LOGOS Australian Centre for Greek Language and Culture dinner at the Pavillion on the Park, the SA state government committed to invest $2 million towards establishing a permanent chair at Flinders University.
“Unlike other communities, us Greeks, we have kept our language, our culture, and our religion until today but although we have all done so well so far, we need to ask ourselves what happens in the years to come,” said the treasurer.
“What has been achieved so far has been a miracle but if we are serious about maintaining this language, our heritage, our story, who we are as people, we need to invest in our language. In my small way, today in the State Budget, the government has committed $2 million towards the Foundation, and for me, it’s my responsibility as Treasurer to fight for that; for our grandchildren, because we are Hellenes, we are part of something that changed the world forever and we can’t forget this because Greeks have done some amazing things in this country.
“We are standing on the shoulders of giants who have previously achieved so much within the Greek community and it is now time for us to continue what they have started,” Koutsantonis said and his announcement was met with a deafening applause and a buzz of excitement from some 200 guests.
“If we are serious about promoting Hellenism, then we must invest towards our Greek heritage and particularly towards maintaining our language,” said Koutsantonis before inviting Professor Michael Tsianikas, the Director of the LOGOS Centre to take the stand.
“Honestly, I really didn’t expect all this and I feel incredibly humbled and grateful because I know now that our language will survive through time,” said Profesor Tsianikas who has also been working diligently to grow the department for years.
Theo Maras, Trustee of the Foundation for Hellenic Studies also appeared pleasantly surprised by the announcement.
“Tonight our dream has come true and you have really amazed me, Tom, because the dream I [have] had since 2005, together with [the] now deceased Bill Taliangis, was to promote our Greek heritage by establishing a permanent Chair at the university. Therefore, personally and on behalf of the foundation, I would like to thank you Tom and all of the previous generations for all they have done and the sacrifices they have made in order for us to be enjoying our culture today,” said Mr Maras.
The LOGOS Centre was established in 2012 after the state government of the time agreed to contribute $600,000 towards its creation; this remains an event without precedent outside of Greece.
“Tonight, the state government has displayed an immense amount of respect towards the Greek people and the flame of Hellenism shines so bright again. Whether we were born here in Australia or in Greece, we were, we still are and we will continue to be Hellenes,” Maras told Neos Kosmos after the announcement was made.
“What Koutsantonis did tonight will be an everlasting legacy and what it will do is something that in generations to come will help our language and culture to not be forgotten. It will be alive and go strong for another four generations.
“We should all remain proud Hellenes and be happy that, as a result of what happened tonight, our Hellenism and language will live forever.”