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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 June 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 JUNE 2016 27 GREECE Greeks. He said that we should all be involved. We should all be first class citizens and not just be parasites, getting the benefits without the burden. He had always considered himself to be a journalist, an observer of society and commentator. A person who had something to contribute to the way society operated. After his career in retail and clothing, he went to Greece for a while where he started a big furniture business in Kifissia. When the drachma was devalued by 30 per cent, it devastated the business. So, he came back to Australia. I asked him, "What are you going to do now?". And he said, "I'm going to start a newspaper". "Just like that?". "Yes, why not? How hard can it be? I have friends. I know publishers. I can do this!". So he started Neos Pyrsos. He felt that the community needed another newspaper as a counterpoint for Neos Kosmos. He enjoyed being another voice: a serious, educated, researched voice about community affairs, about the church, about the politics, the political situation in Australia. In his newspaper, he'd publish letters that were critical of him, he'd reply to them, we welcomed open discussion. He was tired of seeing people come to shop with a sandwich in their mouths. For people who were working, if they couldn't shop during lunch time, by the time they finished work, all the shops would be closed. And on Saturday morning, they'd shop for their food. They do their grocery shopping from 9 am till 12 pm and if they wanted to buy clothes, they'd do it from 12 pm to 1 pm. My father thought that this is ridiculous. he said it was uncivilised. The country was designed for the aristocracy. Only people that were rich could shop, those who were not working. This has to change. He was tired of seeing people come to shop with a sandwich in their mouth. So he started a campaign for the shops to stay open till late: "Make Melbourne Brighter". He didn't approve of the 24/7 trading that's happening today, because this is an exaggeration. But he believed that shopping should be a celebration. People would come with their family and have a night out; it would liven up the city, make it an international city. That was a philosophy. And then he did another campaign for the liquor licensing laws to change, to enable alfresco dining. When he started that, the chamber of commerce said that Australians would never be seen eating outside. But this is what resulted to him getting an OAM for his services to the community. He believed that the welleducated in a society have an obligation, a duty, to help that society progress. There is no point in having a good education, if you're not helping the society you're living in progress. Because without progress, a society dies. And progress comes from the educated. He would say: "When I came to Australia in 1955, about 15 per cent of Australians had a tertiary education. Among the Greeks who came to Australia, about 1 per cent had tertiary education and most of them had barely finished primary school. The Australians brought people here who would have difficulty living in a big city in their own country. They would probably be living in their villages. If they went to Athens, they'd be struggling to settle into Athens. And the government brought them to Melbourne! To a strange culture, to a different language, with Anglo-Saxon emphasis; of course they would have difficulty learning to adapt in this new country". It was hard and it was even harder because most of them were not educated in their own language. So, he wanted to introduce means by which the Greeks could integrate into the society. And he thought the first way to do it would be to provide a cultural platform. That's why, he started the Athenian Society, a group of people who were interested in literature, in poetry, in theatre. I remember going to many plays that he had put up and written himself. One of the plays was Ο μετανάστης, it was all about the difficulties of a migrant coming to Australia and dealing with the migrant experience and the Anglo-Saxon culture. They were always very popular. One of the most significant things he did was the Academy. Growing up in the 1960s, we were always in fights because we were 'wogs'. We wanted to become more Australians to stop the teasing. Our parents were worried that this would result to their kids becoming Australian at the cost of their Greek culture. One of the great fears that the Greeks had was that they'd have to lose their children to the Australian Anglo-Saxon culture. So he established the Hellenic Academy of Modern Greek in Swanston Street to enable the children, as they go into their teens, to get a better knowledge of Greece and their culture. In the process of the children getting educated in Greek, the parents got better educated in Greek. If the Greek Community had a 'hall of fame', to honour the legends, they should put my father among them; he should be honoured and remembered. He would have liked to have seen some tribute and recognition for all those community leaders who sacrificed so much and put time and effort to help the community progress. That would be nice. RIP Alfredo Kouris Savvas Grigoropoulos remembers I first met Alfredo as a very young teenager. I worked as a junior parttime salesman in one of his stores, the Bourke Street menswear store in the city of Melbourne. Alfredo was a very active young family man in the Greek Community (Paroikia) and in civic matters of our city and state of Victoria. Many may not know but he was a man with vision and foresight who changed the social landscape of Melbourne and Victoria for the better. He was first of all one of the the major founders of the Greek Community of Mentone. A few years later he and Ierotheos Kourtessis and Spiros Liolois founded and established the Hellenic Academy of Modern Greek in Swanston Street in the city centre of Melbourne. He participated very closely in the raising of money with many others for the chair of Modern Greek in the University of Melbourne. He contributed enormously in bringing the Greek Community closer to the Liberal Party here in Victoria with the founding of G.A.L.A. (Greek Australian Liberals Association). For a number of years he was the publisher and editor of the Greek bi-lingual newspaper Pyrsos. But most importantly some decades ago Alfredo Kouris campaigned tirelessly to have the liquor laws here in Victoria changed so that all restaurants could serve alcoholic beverages with meals and to stay open for longer hours into the night. This led to the first BYO liquor laws and the massive explosion of new restaurants with BYO licences which changed the boring landscape of Melbourne's social and night life for the better. Another very important change that affected the very boring landscape of Melbourne which was changed forever by Alfredo Kouris was his huge personal campaign to have the laws changed so that retail hours for all businesses could be extended. Yes he was responsible for late night shopping and weekend shopping as we know it today. Alfredo Kouris you helped to change our lives for the better. We are hugely grateful and indebted to you. You made your enormous personal mark and contribution in many ways to the Hellenic Community here in Melbourne and Victoria. You made a very valuable contribution to the City of Melbourne and to the State of Victoria as well as Australia. You were a fine example of a great Australian We in the Greek Australian community salute you. Australia salutes you. We pass on to your loving family our deepest condolences. Afredo Kouris R.I.P. May your memory be forever eternal. Vale, Paul Cox The father of Australian independent cinema and director of Kostas died on Sunday, succumbing to cancer at the age of 76 "He's one of the warriors, an independent director who does nothing for hire, who makes only films close to his heart, whose humanism you could call spiritual". These are the words chosen by the late Roger Ebert, one of the most important film critics in history, to describe Paul Cox, the daring Australian filmmaker who passed on Sunday, at the age of 76 years, after a long battle with cancer. Cox is hailed as one of the pioneers of independent cinema in Australia. His international claim to fame came with Man of Flowers in 1983, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1984 Cannes film festival, but he was active as a filmmaker from the mid-1960s until the end of his life. Last year he released Force of Destiny, starring David Wenham, which was based on his own cancer battle before an eleventhhour liver transplant in 2009 pulled him back from the brink of death. When he was diagnosed, he was told he only had six months to live. He managed to make it seven years. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, something that made filmmaking a much harder struggle for him, but he managed to cope with it. For the past few months, he had been trying to work on a new film, Inferno, addressing the issue of terrorism, but his health failed him. Born Paulus Henrique Benedictus Cox, he migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1965 and worked as a photography teacher at the Prahran College of Advanced Education. In the mid-1960s he began making short films and in 1971 he made his first mid-length documentary Calcutta. His first feature was Illuminations, made in 1976. He continued directing both fiction and documentary films, such as the popular Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent van Gogh (1987). In 1982, he directed Lonely Hearts, the story of a middle-aged man searching for love through a dating agency. Thus begun his collaboration with Wendy Hughes, who starred in many of his films, not least among them Kostas. A love story between an Australian woman (Wendy Hughes) and a Greek immigrant (Takis Emmanuel), Kostas was one of the first movies to show life in multicultural Australia. The film was an instant success and it holds a special place in the hearts of Greek Australians in general, and for this newspaper in particular. The film's hero, Kostas, was a journalist who migrated from Greece to Australia, where he was working as a taxi driver. As the story unfolds, Kostas returns to journalism, working for a Greek newspaper in Melbourne - these scenes were shot in Neos Kosmos offices (then located in Russell Street in the CBD), offering some rare insight into the day-to-day operations of the paper (and some glimpses of actual journalists and other members of our team).
18 June 2016
2 July 2016