At a time when language education in Australia can be said to be going through difficult times, the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) has taken the bold decision to open three new after-hours campuses in 2018 in the outer Melbourne suburbs of South Morang, Narre Warren, and Point Cook.

It is expected that students from these suburbs and surrounding areas will be attracted to the new locations. The GCM places education at the forefront of its priorities and this has been demonstrated by education initiatives this year that include encouraging Northcote High School to return Modern Greek to its senior curriculum after looking at phasing it out later in the decade, engaging with La Trobe University to ensure the continuation of its Greek Studies programme, and starting a school holiday programme.

GCM education spokesperson and board member Dr Nick Dallas said, “this decision was made after a lengthy and detailed study of Melbourne’s emerging demographics.

“Melbourne is changing, it’s expanding outwardly as housing affordability becomes more of an issue for families, and many Greek families are part of this demographic shift. We had some ideas about potential locations but the release of the latest 2016 Census data in July confirmed our thoughts and essentially gave the green light to the campus expansion project. The board was overwhelmingly in favour of the project and sees it as an investment for the future.
“The decision also follows the results of parental surveys. Convenience of location is by far the most important determinant in deciding and choosing a campus for their children.
“The education committee released a report in 2016 on Greek language study in Victoria and some of the recommendations were investigating the need for new campuses, looking at investing in upgrading the skills of our teachers and improving our curriculum, and developing a greater understanding must be obtained about why parents chose not to send their children to Greek School.
“By opening up these new campuses and investing heavily in the professional development and ongoing improvement of our teachers and curriculum, we will be delivering on two of these three recommendations,” Dr Dallas explained.

The Community has considerable experience in setting up campuses from scratch.

Just four years ago it established new campuses in Melbourne’s CBD and Malvern East aimed at meeting the needs of children who have Greek as their primary language and whose families had recently arrived with the onset of the Greek economic crisis.

These flourishing campuses have around 300 students and continue to receive new enrolments as the influx of newly-arrived migrants from Greece hasn’t abated.

The roll-out of the new campuses will be overseen by the education sector of the GCM.

“We welcome assistance from the broader community on this project. If anyone knows any families with school-aged children living in these suburbs, they should encourage them to contact the GCM for more information. We encourage everyone to spread the word,” added Mr Tzimpragos, the GCM’s education officer and principal.

The GCM remains passionate about language learning and cultural maintenance, in particular community languages. It continues to fight the ‘good fight’ as it values the benefits that second language acquisition bestows upon a person.