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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 19 January 2019
COMMUNITY 18 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 19 JANUARY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Culture and expansion of the Greek Precinct on Bill Papastergiadis’ priority list NIKOS FOTAKIS "I'm not going to take any of this for granted," says Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV). "I believe that we need to work hard and demonstrate our credentials." His comments set the tone for Sunday's elections to determine the new board of the GOCMV and renew his Presidency – something that is practically secure, given that 19 of the 26 candidates are part of his ticket. The Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture on Lonsdale Street GOCMV members go to the ballots on Sunday 26 candidates to run for the 19-seat board It's election time for the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV), as its members are called to vote for the new board of management tomorrow. The elections were called by the Electoral Committee, appointed at the Community's annual General Meeting on Sunday 20 January, and consisting of Makis Chatzilepos, Chryssoula Stamopoulou, Kostas Kyritsis, Paul Mavroudis, Anastasios Kalamovrakas, Nikos Poulakos, Christos Kalavritinos, Savvas Grigoropoulos and Cathy Alexopoulos. The ballots will be open for all current members of the GOCMV from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, at the “Andrianakos Centre” multipurpose hall of Alphington Grammar (Old Heidelberg Rd, Alphington). Speaking to Neos Kosmos, the Electoral Committee President Paul Mavroudis estimated that about 500600 members are expected to vote, around the same number who voted in the previous elections, taking into consideration that this period is vacation time for many Melburnians and some members are away. Asked whether it would make a difference in turnout, if the elections were to be held at a different time of the year, Mr Mavroudis said that he didn't think it would make any difference. "In all events and functions you see the same people participating, mostly older people. The youth is not that interested," he said, stressing the need for the next generations to become engaged. Two representatives of the Greek Australian youth are among the candidates - student Georgina Pattas and former NUGAS President Tass Sgardelis. They replaced board members Nick Parthimos and Koletsis, who are not on the ballot. The other current board members asking for a vote are Bill Papastergiadis, Nick Koukouvitakis, Theo Markos, Costas Markos, Tammy Iliou, Marinis Pirpiris, Phillip Vassiliadis, Leonidas Vlahakis, Angela Georgalis, Vasso Zangalis, Voula Kallianis, Michael Karamitos, Alexis Costa, Jim Bosinakis, Nick Dallas, Spiros Papadopoulos, Christos Sikavitsas. Apart from these 19 members who are all part of current President, Mr Papastergiadis' ticket, six more independent candidates are up for a seat in the 19-member board. These are Stella Papas (Papakonstantinos), Christos Fifis, Nondas Tsitas, Constantinos Tsakoumis, Michael Choundalakis and Christos Tsirkas. The President himself sees the election as an opportunity for "members to form a view and form a judgement about past activities of the board." As for the reason why he should be reelected, he points to the work done during his tenure. "When one looks at the body of work over the last eight to nine years, [they] will see that there are over 100 cultural events per annum, an extended schools program, a very successful Alphington Grammar academic programand, also a much broader political and social connection with other institutions both domestically and overseas," he said. However, what he describes as the current board's "outstanding achievement" is that it has "galvanised a cooperative environment amongst different parts of our community, whether it's the entrepreneurs, whether it's the service industry, people offering education and culture programs, whether it's the welfare aspect of our services, or the church. "Historically, as we know, the Community was divided and largely unresponsive to many other segments of our Community, both locally and nationally. […] What we've done is to unite many aspects of our Community and find ways to collaborate." Another equally important achievement has been demonstrated in the GOCMV's finances. "We were able to raise significant level of funds, unprecedented in the history of the Greek Community, not for the sake of raising funds, but to develop the infrastructure that will allow and facilitate the organisation to move into its next phase". The most tangible evidence of this is none other than the GOCMV's 15-storey tower – the "Vertical Precinct" – standing on the corner of Lonsdale and Russell streets, the building that Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Terens Quick, described as a "global icon" for Hellenism. This is why the Greek Centre was chosen to host this year's 'Nostos - Return to the roots' project, a forum that will bring together the Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian diaspora, as part of a trilateral cooperation. Nostos is the GOCMV's first priority for 2019, along with another ambitious event. "We will organise a sympo- GOCMV President Bill Papastergiadis, with Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Terens Quick. sium and also a public discussion on the diaspora and hellenism, and we are going to invite leading academics from Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne and engage on their views of Hellenic Studies and then do a workshop with philanthropists and universities," the President says, outlining his vision to create an academic program of Hellenic diaspora studies. "These two things will be the vanguard of our cultural and educational signposts and foundations," he explains. "They will help define the Community in the next 10 years. "When it comes to infrastructure – particularly since the Bulleen site development is all but dead – the GOCMV's focus is on the CBD. "We are going to further develop our precinct, not from a vertical but also a horizontal perspective, within the areas around our Centre," he says. "We are the proud recipients of a $2.5 million grant, which is the largest grant I An independent candidate with passion and vision for the Community Bill Papastergiadis' reelection at the helm of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria might be a safe bet, but tomorrow's elections might present some surprises, creating a reshuffle on the board. Twenty-six candidates are running for a seat in the 19-member board, eager to advocate for the community. "The protagonists of the Community sacrificed their time, money, family and personal ambitions," independent candidate Stella Papas (Papakonstantinos) told Neos Kosmos, expressing her respect to the Community's 120-yearstrong history. "They had a vision to establish strong foundations in a new, fara- Stella Papas presents her views prior to the GOCMV elections way land." Describing herself as a a "dynamic, caring and creative empath with innovative ideas and professionalism," Stella Papas has made a mark in the Greek community, particularly through her work with the Greek Australian Cultural League, organising the annual Antipodean Palette exhibition and this year's inaugural 'Destinations' exhibition. She has also been involved in other events and activities, most notably Greek Centre lectures, the Film Festival, the International Convention of Medical Tourism, Fronditha and the restoration of Greek Orthodox Church, the Annunciation of our Lady (Evangelismos). Outlining her vision for the future of the Community, Ms Papas presented a five-point priority list: • Expand the database of Greek Community Members of Melbourne and Victoria; • Bridge the gap between generations ("our past elders and our youth of tomorrow"); • Create hubs for cultural and educational activities engaging all ages; • Create awareness of the Greek language, culture, tradition and customs within other ethnic communities; • Connect and further enhance relationships and cooperation with other Greek organisations and associations. "What we need today is com- Stella Papas munication and cooperation of all the Greek organisations, to get a better outcome for the future," she stresses. "To attract and promote competent and progressive youth to assume roles in all the organisations. Time is ticking," she adds, calling for all GOCMV members to proceed to vote and elect the new board. "One voice, all together, for a bright future for our Community and progress for Hellenism." believe ever given by a Victorian government to a community organisation, which is for infrastructure purposes – particularly for new buildings. So we will be working with the Victorian government to expand our cultural footprint within the Lonsdale and Russell Street precinct area, so that we have more stores and buildings that reflect the cultural history of that precinct, its Hellenic roots." In order for this to happen, new businesses have to come to the precinct. Attracting them might be a challenge, one might think. Mr Papastergiadis is optimistic. "If you don't charge exorbitant rent, because the community is a non-profit organisation, then you can make it financially viable, whether it is a bookstore, a food-based offer a club for the elderly, if we are not charging exorbitant rents we can make this possible and I think that is the purpose of the Greek community."
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