Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke and Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) President Bill Papastergiadis met to discuss a number of important issues, including the opening of international borders and vaccination passports.
“I am aware of the GCM’s outreach and programs and I commend the GCM for its work,” Mr Hawke said, despite this being the first meeting with the group.
Mr Hawke welcomed the GCM’s interest in community affairs and invited Mr Papastergiadis to continue to advocate and reach out to him and the Government on all matters of relevance, such as the GCM’s advocacy on the recently announced negotiations for a Double Tax Agreement between Australia and Greece.
Mr Hawke spoke of the great vaccination program across the nation that had picked up speed and expressed confidence it would hit targets in the coming weeks and months.
He empathised with the stress felt concerning international border closures noting, “I understand the dislocation that the border closures have had on the Greek and other ethnic communities not only with cancelations of travel but in particular with the disruption of family re-unions, but I believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, noting that “the Government was working hard on both international borders and vaccination passports.”
On vaccinations, Mr Papastergiadis briefed Mr Hawke about the successful hub the GCM had run in Thornbury recently.
The Community is now working with Health Minister Greg Hunt on further instituting more of these hubs over the coming weeks.
Mr Papastergiadis congratulated Mr Hawke on his work in allowing a larger partner immigration intake this year following the downturn in skilled migration due to the pandemic.
Mr Hawke said the government was keen to get migration at pre-pandemic levels as soon as it was safe to do so.
Mr Hawke also spoke of his Greek heritage and responded to an invitation to visit the GCM in the near future with an undertaking to try and make it his first trip out of lockdown.