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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 December 2017
NEWS 4 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 DECEMBER 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Kris Pavlidis is the new ECCV chairperson The City of Whittlesea mayor further commits to increase women’s role in politics Following her election in October as the mayor of the City of Whittlesea, Kris Pavlidis has recently been appointed chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria’s (ECCV) board of directors. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Ms Pavlidis committed to push for “gender balance and equity through the creation of concrete opportunities. Pronia celebrating 45 years. PHOTO: FACEBOOK Women migrants most vulnerable but at the “forefront of integration” Experts say Greek women who migrate to Australia are often from abusive relationships yet are the first in the family to integrate into the Australian way of life STAMATINA HASIOTIS Many women who migrate from Greece have been, or are in, abusive relationships and often end up in dismal domestic situations, says a settlement services officer. Konstantina Kouroutsidou from PRONIA says that in two years of operation, their Newly Arrived program has received more than 57 women seeking assistance due to stressful domestic situations. Ms Kouroutsidou explains that family violence is not only about physical violence; the majority of women who sought help experienced emotional blackmail, social isolation, verbal abuse, and controlling husbands. “The women tell their stories through tears, and become distressed about their family situation and their relationships,” Ms Kouroutsidou said. “They feel helpless and hopeless about their situation, often asking ‘what’s the point? Nothing is going to change anyway’,” she said. Ms Kouroutsidou described a situation where a woman who was four months pregnant arrived in Melbourne on a temporary visa to escape from her abusive husband in Greece. She was distressed to leave behind her young son but planned to start a new life for herself and her unborn child. With her family’s help she planned to bring her oldest child to Australia. However she was unable to survive here without family support, financial assistance, or language skills. After her baby was born, she felt the only difficult thing in Greece was her husband, so she returned to the abusive situation she knew. “So many women, so many sad stories,” Ms Kouroutsidou said. “The women who battle aggression and disrespect towards them also have to cope with the sole responsibilities of looking after the house, the children, a sick mother, or a disabled child, before or after their full or part-time jobs. “They carry their mental distress with them, and migration exacerbates their stress and magnifies the pressure they feel.” However, of all the people Ms Kouroutsidou sees, women migrants are frequently the first to seek support or help. “It is a fact that a large percentage of women are those who are the first to step up to meet migration challenges,” she said. “They learn the language easier and faster, find work before their husbands, and take a lead role to participate in their community first. “They are at the forefront of integration. Usually the husbands don’t speak as well as the women do, they don’t show interest in understanding the systems, and they’re frequently one step behind.” Ms Kouroutsidou said it is the women who lead their family into their new life in Australia, and this is what changes the family dynamics. “The women have the strength, they are not shy,” she said. “The women try so hard and most of the time they are a lot more active. In the majority of the couples, the wives decide to seek services from PRONIA and they share the information with their families.” “More than 50 per cent of our demographic are women and yet that isn’t reflected in the decisionmaking structures, positions, and levels,” says the mayor, who is the first woman of Greek background to have assumed this role. Moreover, Ms Pavlidis was previously ECCV’s Women’s Policy Advisory Committee Co-Convenor for 12 years, advocating for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Outgoing ECCV chairperson Eddie Micallef congratulated Ms Pavlidis on her appointment, PHOTO: FACEBOOK adding that her years of expertise across government and community sectors will be an asset for the institution. “The ECCV office-bearers and I will work to ensure ECCV continues to be the voice to Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds across a broad range of policy areas including family violence prevention, employment, and gender. We will continue to advocate as the active conduit between grassroots community and government,” Ms Pavlidis said. Delphi Bank raises funds for over 35 newly arrived Greek families in need Delphi Bank, faithful to its tradition of helping members of our community who are struggling these holidays, has, for the second consecutive year, partnered with PRONIA to help make a difference in the lives of locals. Opting out of their annual Kris Kringle activities, Delphi Bank employees instead donated money towards the purchase of vouchers for over 35 newly-arrived Greek families who are in need this festive season. "It's not just a Christmas giving project,” head of Delphi Bank, Jim Sarris said. Konstantina Kouroutsidou. PHOTO: SUPPLIED "This is about fostering the ongoing relationships we have built with the community, and staying true to our ethos to give back to the community that has always supported us." Delphi Bank has long been committed to helping make a difference in local communities through a diverse community engagement program that supports over 300 charities, volunteer groups and cultural causes.
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