Renewed attention on Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall and its Greek connection has encouraged a ten year campaign that Eaton Mall should change its name to Omonia Mall. The suggestion was initially raised by George Euripidou, Regional Manager Community Business Development, Bank of Sydney, who in 2005 could see how Greek the area was becoming and wanted to promote the Hellenism there by giving it an identifiable Greek name. The motion for the name change was supported by City of Monash Councillor Paul Kliras.
Mr Euripidou says the change in the area from his initial suggestion in 2005 to now is “unbelievable”.
“It’s quite Greek now,” he tells Neos Kosmos, with most of the business and cafes on Eaton Mall managed by an owner of Greek heritage or being a Greek business itself.
The idea is to change the name to Omonia Square, Omonia Mall or Omonia Platea, paying homage to Omonia Square in Athens. Mr Euripidou says the name celebrates Omonia Square in the way the Greeks in Australia remember the square before they migrated to Australia in the ’50s and ’60s. They remember Omonia Square as a bustling hub and a meeting place. He says he disagrees with any claims Omonia Square has any bad connotations as it’s now known more for violence, drugs and protests. But he says you only need to look into recent history; following Greece’s win at the Euro Cup, fans gathered at Omonia Square to celebrate, and that’s what he wants Eaton Mall to be when the name change occurs.
When posted on Facebook, the majority of Neos Kosmos readers agreed with the name change and also suggested a number of their own, such as Mikri Patritha, Plateia Oakleigh, Hellenic Avenue, Hidden Greece, Aristotelous Mall, and Plaka. Yet, some readers raised concerns with the reputation Omonia Square now has and whether or not the community should be promoting that in the name change.
In 2005, the plans to change the name didn’t go ahead, but during the campaign, they managed to get front page in the local media.
Tia Spanos Tsonis, one of the managers of Vanilla Lounge, in Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall, says she supports the name change, depending solely on the name, but says they need to keep options open as it could potentially limit and exclude visitors to the precinct. She says they would have to really consider the name before deciding, such as the meaning behind the name and the history of that name. She feels a name such as Omonia may have bad connotations.
“Looking forward as a business owner, I would ask what sort of crowds will the name invite and is it an open enough name to include all walks of life?” she tells Neos Kosmos.
“If the name has a Hellenic spirit behind it and doesn’t limit any cultures and races than absolutely,” she adds.
She says it would be an honour to give the mall a Hellenic name, but the name needs to be inclusive and attractive for people to visit the precinct.