The City of Ballarat and the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee have announced their intention to erect a new memorial to Ballarat’s Major George Treloar.
The announcement was made at a Ballarat meeting of representatives of the council and the committee last week in the presence of Cr Samantha McIntosh (the mayor of Ballarat), Kate Gerritsen (City of Ballarat Public Art Coordinator), Alexandra Tascas (Ballarat RSL president), Litsa Athanasiadis (George Divine Treloar Memorial Committee president), and various other committee members.
The committee, which is not-for-profit, was established in 2015 to raise awareness and create a lasting memorial to the service and refugee work of Treloar.
It is made up of the descendents of refugees who were assisted by George Devine Treloar, along with historians, writers, and other interested members of the community.
Its work is supported by the Ballarat RSL and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria.
The memorial will be erected in Ballarat’s ‘avenue of statues’ Sturt Street, with a design that complements and continues the theme of other figurative memorial statues erected there, including those honouring Pompey Elliott and Albert Coates.
The estimated cost of the project is around $150,000, and the committee has already received $68,000 in donations with more pledges to come, as well as major donations in kind to assist the construction of the memorial.
Meanwhile the City of Ballarat has also allocated $50,000 towards the project.
Ms Athanasiadis said that she had been overwhelmed by the support the project had received already and that she and the committee were very confident in raising the final amounts needed.
The meeting also saw members agree on a timeline for the delivery of the project, its erection, and unveiling, which is expected to be completed by June 2018.
In accordance with council policy, the process to select a sculptor to design the memorial will commence soon.
Cr McIntosh stated that the memorial will be a fitting addition to Ballarat’s famous Sturt Street commemorative statues and monuments and she looked forward to the realisation of the project.
The sentiment was shared by Ms Tascas, who said the memorial would be a wonderful addition to the commemorative heritage of Ballarat.
During the gathering Ms McIntosh, Ms Tascas, and Ms Gerritsenin were also recognised for their support for the memorial project on behalf of committee member John Salpigtidis of the new commemorative Anzac biscuit tin featuring the Anzacs in Greece in 1941.
Committee members also took the opportunity to visit Ballarat RSL’s commemorative displays at the George Hotel, namely the display featuring Ballarat nurse Gertrude Munro – the only Australian nurse to die during war service in Greece in WW1. She is buried in Thessaloniki’s Mikra Commonwealth War Cemetery.
Ballarat-born Treloar was a highly decorated WWI veteran who went on to help over 108,000 Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the former Ottoman Empire.
As the official representative of the League of Nations – the precursor to today’s United Nations – in northern Greece, George accepted the responsibility for providing immediate aid and assisting in the resettlement and integration of these desperate refugees into their new homeland, Greece.
Treloar was honoured by the Greek government with the award of the Order of the Redeemer by the Greek king and the naming of one of the refugee villages after him – Thrilorio.
For more information about the George Devine Treloar Memorial project contact the committee secretary, Penny Tsoumbanopoulos on mobile 0409 850 109 or email [email protected]
* Jim Claven is a freelance writer and historian with a master degree from Monash University. He is a member of the George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee.