The Governor-General has announced Honours and Awards for 737 Australians, including awards in the Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), meritorious awards and recognition for conspicuous service.

Of the 737, at least six Greek Australians, based on our surname search, have been recognised in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours list.

Recipients will attend ceremonies at Government House in their respective state or territory in coming months to receive the insignia of their award.

The youngest recipient is 29 years old, the eldest living recipient is 98 years old.

The list also includes 34 Australians recognised for their contribution in support of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These individuals will also be included in an ongoing and permanent COVID-19 Honour roll.

Effie Bacalakis has received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community of the Cairns region.

The Queenslander is a foundation member of St John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Parish Cairns, having been a donor for its construction in the early 1990s all the way to serving as Chair and Secretary until the mid-2010s.

“It’s a great honour and quite a surprise,” she told Neos Kosmos.

Effie Bacalakis (right) has received an OAM. Photo: Supplied

“There’s a lot of people that go behind it. It wouldn’t be without my supporters, helpers and volunteers, that whenever I ask them to assist in the project, they would be willing and ready to help.”

She worked in aged care services as part of St John’s and is a founding committee member of Gordonvale Community Care, having donated a block of land with her husband to establish a respite centre.

When asked what drives her, she said her Christian values and wanting to give to the community.

“Helping people, I just get pleasure out of seeing people get their needs and wishes.”

Away from church and care, she is very much involved with Greek culture, as the coordinator of the Cairns Greek Multicultural Festival, founder of the Greek Language School and Dance Group and a dance teacher at Cairns Greek Cultural Club.

In 2019 she received a Gold Cross of St Andrew from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

Also receiving an OAM is Michael Nicholas Litis from Western Australia for service to the community through sports organisations.

Litis is Life Member at Hellenic Lawn Bowling Club, Castellorizian Association, serving as president.

He is also part of the Hellenic Football Club, Karoonda Junior Football Club and Royal Perth Golf Club, and many other sporting clubs in Western Australia.

Well-resected philanthropist within the Greek community in Sydney, Dimitra Micos, has been honoured with an OAM as well.

She receives the distinction for her service to the Greek community of Sydney, for her volunteer work at Greek Welfare Centre Newtown, Saint Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, since 1986.

Micos has been a mentor at the Greek Orthodox Church of St George since 2006, and was a convenor for the Greek Women’s Olympic Choir in 2000 and 2004.

She was also a committee member, Welfare Centre, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, is the Vice-President at Hellenic Lyceum Sydney and founding member of the management committee at Saint Spyridon College.

Dimitra Micos (left). Photo: St Savvas of Kalymnos Orthodox Church Sydney/Facebook

Two Greeks have received the Australian Police Medal (APM) as part of the meritorious awards for their services.

Detective Senior Sergeant Angela Hantsis from Victoria and Assistant Commissioner Arlene Mavratsou in WA.

Hantsis has devoted her working life to solving some of the most complex and intriguing criminal cases in recent Victoria Police history, including cold case murders, armed robberies and sex crimes.

She served on taskforces that conducted the investigation into alleged involvement of police in the murder of a Victorian man, the investigation into the 2009 Victorian bushfires, and the investigation into the infamous gangland murders in Melbourne.

As a senior sergeant she has worked to address complex needs that surround street level drug use and sex work in order to reduce harm to individuals and the local community.

Arelene Mavratsou. Photo: Western Australia Police Force/Facebook

Mavratsou joined the Western Australia Police Force in 2020 after serving other law enforcement intelligence services across Australia and the United States.

She was promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner and was the first public servant appointed by the Governor to a commissioned officer rank in Western Australia.

Other notable accomplishments include implementing new frontline operational technological solutions providing modern crime solving tools and equipment to assist the frontline.

Also, part of the meritorious awards, Jim Kokkalos received the Emergency Services Medal (ESM).

Jim Kokkalos has supported and contributed to the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) for nearly three and a half decades, not only as a dedicated volunteer but a leader.

Kokkalos has always placed VICSES as a high priority in his life, at times he has made personal sacrifices to ensure his unit is ready to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. His continual sacrifice of personal time is over and above what is expected of a volunteer.

He told Neos Kosmos that it is a great honour and he is humbled by it.

“My passion is to help others where I can and you meet great people along the journey,” he said.

Many of those people are always happy to chat with him once they learn he is Greek.

“You go to someone’s house to help them out like if a tree went through their front window or something.”

“They’re talking Greek to each other, a dad or a papou and say, ‘oh, you’re Greek?’.

“They do see you differently and you make a better connection.”

Kokkalos has supported many local events, for example, as a field commander for the Melbourne Grand Prix (1996-2015), Taskforce Commander during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, as well as assisting with operational support to many regions in Victoria for fires, floods and storms.

SESVIC Volunteer Jim Kokkalos. Photo: Supplied

Often taking time off from work to ensure he is able to assist during large disasters and operations across Victoria on many occasions.

Prominent examples of these operations would be the 2010 and 2012 Melbourne hailstorms and all flood and major fire events in Victoria for over 25 years.

Kokkalos, whose parents and siblings migrated to Australia from Kalamata Greece in the early 1960’s, was the face of VICSES during the State Governments promotion of multicultural persons.

He has left quite a mark on the organisation.

He helped introduce the blue and red emergency lights on VICSES vehicles, the review of PPE, which saw the adoption of Kevlar Helmets across the service and a key figure behind the Vehicle Design Group which paved the way for the current Fleet Working Group.

He was also was instrumental in having the VICSES involved in the Good Friday Appeal, where his son currently dresses up as the organisation’s Mascot, ‘Paddy the Platypus’.

“The ESM will be proudly displayed alongside my National Medal and 1st Clasp, a 30-year VICSES Long Service Medal and my VICSES Life Membership, which was awarded to me in 2022.”

“I hope that my recognition of achievements inspires not only my fellow Greeks, but others who want to serve our communities.”

Anyone can nominate an Australian for an award in the Order of Australia here.