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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 19 January 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 19 JANUARY 2019 21 OPINION Greek Community: an anomaly and an act of resistance CHRISTOS FIFIS The Greek Communities of the Diaspora have a very long history. In the 18th and early 19th centuries there were important communities in Italy, England, France, Romania, Russia, Vienna, Switzerland. Even in India. Many of these communities contributed to the awakening of Hellenism and finally in the preparation and organisation of the Greek Revolution of 1821. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the main thriving Greek Diaspora Communities were those of Egypt. They provided their members with schools, hospitals, social services. These Communities derived their strength from the financial support of their more prosperous members. The conditions in Australia are, in many respects quite different, but, nevertheless, Communities like the Melbourne one could learn a lot from the organisation and functions of the Greek Communities of Egypt. The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV) is in a position to be able to bring together the members of the Greek community and Greek Community organisations. Quite correctly, the Community Council gave Mr Andrianakos' name to the new multipurpose hall of Alphington Grammar School, for his generous donation for its construction. However, it should have done also something similar for the very important donation of the Association "Argos Orestikon" and other noteworthy donations. This was the practice of the Communities of Egypt. The GOCMV has a long history in bringing together members and organisations of the larger community and to promote issues concerning Hellenism. In 1968 the Community was one of the main organisations that convened in Melbourne the 1st Conference of Greek Studies and paid the expenses. That Conference, among other things, created the Greek Community Appeal Committee for the entrance of Modern Greek at the University of Melbourne. The pre-1972 Community administration and the then leadership of the Archdiocese were against the creation of the Greek Australian Welfare Society Pronoia, each for their own reasons. The new 1972 Community administration gave Pronoia accommodation in its own premises and this continued for many years after. Up to then the newly created "Pronoia" was forced to seek accommodation in the then small premises of the GreekCypriot Community. In 1973 the Community made available an office in its building for the accommodation of the Melbourne Greek Australian Students' Association, which later became part of the NUGAS Association. In 1977 the GOCMV, on the occasion of the celebration of its 80th year, co-operated with the Greek Australian Cultural League of Melbourne to organise a Greek Short Story competition. Since 1976 the GOCMV was one of the main organisers of the Greek Week Festival, every March. Since 1987 the GOCMV created the Festival Antipodes to celebrate the Greek Independence Day. Members of the administrations of the GOCMV and Pronoia, such as George Papadopoulos, Dr Spiros Moraitis, Nick Polites, Savvas Papasavvas, Dimitris Ktenas and others played a very important role in the creation and acceptance of the policies and philosophy of multiculturalism in Australia. Buildings and property assets, of course are important and necessary for carrying out the Community tasks. However, on the other hand, the philosophy of "the Community institution", that is, the spirit of the voluntary participation of active members, the open procedures, the debate and the participation in the discussion of the issues and decision making is of equal, if not more importance. Bob Hawke, in a letter to the President of the Greek Community, Savvas Papasavas, in March 1987, praised the multicultural aspects of the first Antipodes Festival: "…The success of the Festival is a splendid example of what can be achieved by our ethnic com- munities when they make creative and independent efforts on their own behalf. It could be no clearer proof of the strength and vitality of multiculturalism in Australia than the spirit created by the Festival". The tasks of the GOCMV are to bring together its members and the organisations of the wider Greek Community but also to co-operate with other ethnicities and the mainstream community to promote aspects of the Greek Civilisation, as it is done with the Greek Community lectures and the Greek Film Festival, and to support the development of the multicultural spirit in the mainstream community. The procedures should be open for the information and the representative participation in the debate and the decision making, especially on issues concerning the role and the future of the Community. It's not a positive development that at the Community General Meetings, a minimum time is devoted to discussion of issues concerning the Community and that in the last three elections of 2010, 2012 and 2016, all 19 Community Council members were elected from the same ticket. This is in accordance with the electoral system but the continuous abuse of it creates an anomaly which destroys the democratic process and the community spirit and endangers the future of the Community. This development affects the good governance of the Community and leads to alienation of members, to the creation of indifference and apathy. This is the reason why the participation of independent candidates in the election amounts to an act of resistance. A resistance against the danger of indifference and apathy. Dr Christos N. Fifis is an Honorary Associate of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, LaTrobe University The life of Private Albert JIM CLAVEN Private Albert Jacka and the 14th Battalion sailed from Port Melbourne aboard the troopship Ulysses along with Colonel John Monash, arriving at Lemnos as part of the 4th Brigade prior to taking part in the landings on 25 April. Like the other diggers who came to Lemnos at this time, Albert would have gazed out on Mudros Bay, at the villages surrounding the shoreline and maybe purchased some fresh fruit or eggs from the local Lemnian traders who came out to the huge Allied ships anchored in the harbor. During his service at Gallipoli Private Albert Jacka would be awarded his Victoria Cross, the first of any Australian soldier in the First World War. Later in the war, he would return to Lemnos and be admitted to one of the army field hospitals established there by Australian, British and Canadian military authorities. He would receive further decorations for bravery and end the war with the rank of Captain. The awarding of the Victoria Cross made Albert a celebrity on Lemnos when he came there with the rest of his unit for rest and recuperation in September 1915. There was a great show as the whole 4th Brigade was paraded and Albert was embraced by the French Naval Commander in Chief, RearAdmiral Guepratte. After returning to the front on Gallipoli, Albert finally returned to Lemnos with the evacuation of the peninsula in December. When Albert returned to Lemnos in September, 130 Australian nurses were already serving alongside medical officers and hundreds of orderlies at the Australian hospitals that had been erected around Mudros Bay. One of those was Staff Nurse Clarice Daley. Born in Box Hill, Clarice was living in Elwood when she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service. In May 1915 Clarice sailed with the 3rd Australian General Hospital (3rd AGH) for overseas service from Princes Pier in Port Melbourne – the same pier that would welcome so many of Victoria's Hellenic and other migrant communities in the 1950's and beyond. Clarice's service on Lemnos was that of the other nurses and staff who served alongside her, led by Matron Grace Wilson. They provided essential medical care to thousands of sick and wounded soldiers, exposed in their tents on the Turks Head Peninsula, suffering sweltering summer heat and flies as well as winter gales and cold. Despite all this Clarice and the others achieved an astounding 98 per cent recovery rate for their patients. Albert Jacka himself would be treated for illness at Lemnos' medical facilities during his service at Gallipoli. Along with her colleagues Clarice no doubt enjoyed her free time while on Lemnos, visiting the local villages, inter-acting with the villagers, enjoying a local meal and beverage and admiring the ornate Greek Orthodox Churches of the Island. Clarice may even have partaken of the rejuvenating hot mineral springs baths at Therma – as hundreds of other soldiers and nurses did, including Colonel John Monash. But Clarice is unique in another way. For her and her husband to be are the only service personnel to have been married on Lemnos during the Gallipoli cam- paign. In October 1915, Clarice married her sweetheart from Melbourne – now Sergeant Ernest Lawrence of the Australian Light Horse – at the Church Camp on the Turks Head Peninsula. The service was attended by many of their comrades, with three of her nursing colleagues - Matron Grace Wilson, Staff Nurse Mary McIlroy and Staff Nurse Beulah McMinn - signing the wedding certificate and soldiers held their bayonets aloft to make an "avenue of honour" for the new couple. The whole occasion was photographed and Clarice's fellow 3rd AGH nurses presented her with a bronze pot, specially engraved as a wedding present. Clarice continued her service at the 3rd AGH until its evacuation and transfer to Egypt. As a married nurse Clarice returned to Australia and was discharged. Ernest survived the war, returning to Australia in 1918, and the couple settled back in Elwood, raising a family together. A few hundred metres from Albert's grave, Clarice and Ernest are buried together in St Kilda Cemetery. And so following the completion of the commemorative service at the grave of Albert Jacka, members of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, led by myself as Secretary, laid a wreath on the grave of Clarice and Ernest – in honour of these two other Anzacs, who have such a special and unique connection to the Island of Lemnos. As with our previous annual pilgrimage to their grave site, it was my pleasure to make the floral wreath from olive, lemon and rosemary branches. *Jim Claven is the secretary of the Lemnos - Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc.
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