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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 6 May 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 MAY 2017 7 NEWS in these communities but our mainstream programs didn't reflect the cultural beliefs and nuances associated with these men. We are now on the verge of merging with the Uniting Church's 21 other agencies throughout Victoria and Tasmania and will be known as Uniting, so in a few months' time, the name `Kildonan' will no longer exist. To survive, you need agility and innovation and have resilient, creative, flexible people who are open to change. How did you get involved with the organisation in the first place? When I saw a team leader role advertised at Kildonan, the job description read like my nirvana. It had youth, family, and community elements all rolled into one, and this really appealed to me as I'd learnt that you can never look at a person's issues in isolation. More often than not, the presenting problem is the tip of the iceberg and there are usually so many other factors at play. I spent eight years working my way through various roles at Kildonan, eventually landing the role as CEO. I was only four months into my CEO role when the 2009 bushfires hit. I had to take Kildonan down a path it had never been before, that is, providing emergency relief on a large scale. That was a real turning point for both myself and Kildonan's staff. Despite never having operated in disaster relief, Kildonan was at the forefront of that relief effort, which impacted many of the areas in which they operated. I was blessed with some amazing role models during my time at Kildonan. My first boss, Chris Callanan, was an amazing mentor and taught me to stay calm. Long serving board chair Kate Long always backed me, and long-time Kildonan treasurer, Neville John also really helped me learn how to deal with a range of stakeholders who weren't used to a CEO who was a young, Greek chick from Reservoir doing things differently! What do you consider your greatest achievement? Initially my main goal was to a establish Kildonan both financially and reputation-wise, and my greatest achievement is that we did that, and as a result, Kildonan grew for the right reasons in areas that we wanted it to, that were previously difficult. What was the greatest challenge that you've had to face? The greatest challenge has been how to bring together community, corporates, and government around a shared purpose to deliver social services in a new way. How would you describe the current philanthropy and social engagement ecosystem? For the social engagement ecosystem to be effective in delivering impact for the community, it needs to incorporate government, the social sector, and notfor-profit organisations, corporates, and philanthropists. We are always much more effective when we collaborate. How important is the role of philanthropy in this? Philanthropy has always been an important part of investing in innovation at Kildonan and we've had lots of success partnering with philanthropists to pursue cutting edge and new approaches that governments and the sector are yet to think of. How do you see the emergence of social enterprises? Social enterprises are emerging as a new way of achieving social impact using innovative, agile responses by entrepreneurs. They too need to be supported and embraced by the traditional ecosystem. They are growing in numbers which is pleasing to see. Social enterprise development is probably the fastest service platform in the world. It's a very exciting thing to be emerging. It's going to, at some level, be a disruptor for mainstream traditional services who don't want to change, and it's going to really provide opportunities for both the community sector and corporates to actually come together, collaborate and develop some really innovative solutions to what are some wicked community problems. How did you decide to pursue a career in this field? My first job was in Community Corrections in Geelong and I always say I started my toughest job first. I literally had a whistle hung around my neck and was sent in to Barwon Prison. At 23 years old it was confronting and stressful. On my first day as I was walking across the yard, someone called my name and I came face to face with a boy from school. As he shared his story I was struck by the similarities in our upbringings, yet a series of unfortunate incidents had led him to the `wrong side of the fence.' So many of the men I came across told me their lives may have turned out differently if someone had have stepped in and helped them, and their families, when they were younger. It was because of this, and the impact it had on me, that youth and early intervention became my focus, and still are today. How has your Greek background influenced your professional conduct and development? I had an amazing and privileged experience of living with both my parents and grandparents in the one household, so I got to know about my cultural heritage and my family history from my grandparents in particular. My dad was a tailor and my mum a seamstress and they ran a men's clothing business and worked incredible hours - for 30 years - which gave me a strong work ethic, but they were also very generous and there was a real spirit of welcoming and helping others in our home. I think this was the greatest influence on me going into the not-for-profit sector, rather than joining dad's business. Mum and dad were also very involved in various Greek committees - the soccer club, the village club, AHEPA - and community life. Saturday night was going to dances, Sunday was going to church and then visiting all the relatives. This really developed my emotional intelligence and social etiquette which helped my transition into the not-for-profit sector. My Year 11/12 Greek teacher inspired me to go to university and develop a range of skill sets, such as politics, Classics, and literature, and for that, I will be forever grateful. To this day I run a leadership lecture which focuses on lessons we can learn from the Ancient Greeks. Greece signs fourth memorandum After months of negotiations, the Greek government conceded to the demands of the country’s lenders, agreeing to reforms and austerity measures, including pension and welfare payment cuts After a marathon of negotiations, the Greek government finally managed to reach a staff level agreement with the country's creditors early on Tuesday morning. The last round of talks lasted for 12 hours and the announcement of the agreement was made by Euclid Tsakalotos himself, at 6.00 am. The Greek Finance Minister appeared certain that, now that the second review of the bailout program is going through, there is a high likelihood for an agreement on debt relief. His optimist outlook is not shared by the Greek people, who saw their fears confirmed. The deal includes cut on pensions, increased taxation, reduction of the no-tax cap, reduction to the governments, medication subsidies, the sale of the country's assets, and some counter-measures designed to offer relief, which will be implemented if the country's primary surplus exceeds the goal of three and a half per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Specifically, all of Greece's pensioners will see a nine per cent reduction of their monthly pension. This mostly affects 900, 000 pensioners who receive more than €700 per month, which will see their annual income reduced by the equivalent of a month's pay. The tax-free threshold, which now stands at €8,6369,545 (A$12,692-14,028), will go down to €5,681 (A$8,3649) for single taxpayers and will be slightly increased for families, according to each additional member, reaching €6,595 ($9,561). This marks a significant increase in taxation, affecting the lower incomes, which will have to pay €650 more per year - especially lower-income pensioners will be affected by both the pension cuts and the lower tax- free threshold. This will conincide with €447m worth of cuts to subsidies and support payments, including unemployment benefits, disaster relief, and medical costs. The deal also includes provisions for the reduction of the public sector workforce, with a cap on temporary contracts to be reduced from 49,448 to 48,420 by December 2019. However, if the fiscal targets are met, the public sector will be able to hire one worker for every three retirements, up to one hiring for every five retirements today. Furthermore, if the fiscal targets are met, then the government will be able to offer tax breaks, reducing corporate tax from 29 per cent to 26 per cent in 2019, with further reduction for individual taxpayers, pensioners, farmers. Also, some subsidies will be reintroduced, including family and childcare benefits, as well as school meals. Trading hours in Greece: sometimes on Sunday The Greek government tries to reach a compromise with the country’s creditors, demanding a deregulation of retail trading hours Greece may have accepted the terms of a new bailout deal, conceding to the country's creditors demands for excessive reforms and a series of further austerity measures, but there are some matters that are still up for negotiation, not least among them the issue of retail shop trading hours. The matter has been a subject of debate for years, with the International Monetary Fund pressing for retail shops to be open on Sundays, according to the directive of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The suggestion has been met with harsh opposition by the unions in Greece, both the ones representing workers and owners, while even the church has intervened in the debate, defending Sunday as a day devoted to worship. Workers are concerned that they will be pressed to work longer hours without being paid penalty rates, while shop owners express their concern that, if voted in, the law will allow for large chain retail shops and multinationals to dominate the market and lead family businesses out of work. The State Council, one of Greece's supreme courts, has already issued a ruling on the matter, stating that it is unconstitutional for retail shops to trade on Sundays, with the exception of specific areas of tourist interest. The current law allows for retail shops to trade on eight Sundays a year, but during ne- gotiations, the Greek government and the creditors tried to find a compromise by extending the officially proclaimed tourist season by a month and reconsidering the criteria according to which an area is deemed tourist-oriented. According to government sources, the tourist season in Greece will officially extend from May to September and tourist areas will include the seaside suburbs of Athens. In these areas, shops will be allowed to open on 32 Sundays a year.
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13 May 2017