Family is a big part of what it is to be Greek Australian, and in National Child Protection Week, three Greek Australians are leading the field.
Argiri Alisandratos is the assistant director of placement and support services at the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS), and he says his Greek heritage prepared him for a career in child protection.
“My family and our culture and my upbringing in a traditional Greek environment has been an enormous benefit to how I connect with families, and ensure families are a source of support when they can be,” he said.
Alisandratos has worked as a practitioner for nearly 20 years, and is now responsible for designing the programs and policies that deal with moving young people away from their families when it’s neccesary.
He said maintaining the child’s culture is very important.
He said National Child Protection Week was important for highlighting the positive child protection stories.
Angela Papoutsoglou is a principal practitioner for the Department of Human Services, in Melbourne’s north-west. She said the successes come from keeping families together.
“Our paramount concern is the concern of the child, but also working in creative ways in partnership with the family to keep them together,” she said.
She said when children do need to be moved, the first preference is within the extended family network.
“You see it in the Greek community,” she said. “I’ve worked with a number of Greek families where, overall, the sense is, ‘we are a family,’ and when there’s an issue and we become involved, it’s amazing where extended family come from to help.”
Mary Kyrios is the DHS’s principal policy analyst, working to achieve better outcomes for children in the Children’s Court.
“We’re looking at a new model of alternative dispute resolution in the Children’s Court that ensures that children are the main focus,” she said.
She said her Greek Australian heritage has made her open to the way different families function.