Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Makin Electorate: Greek Community
On Saturday 10 October I attend the Greek Festival in Salisbury. Next Sunday I will be attending the St Dimitrios Greek Parish Festival at the St Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church in Salisbury as I have done every year for more than a decade. The two events are not just a celebration of Greek culture but are as much a sharing of their culture—in particular Greek food, music and dancing—with the broader community. The Salisbury Greek Festival is held in the Salisbury Civic Square and is free to all who wish to attend. It began in 2009 and has become an annual event with the intention being that it becomes a broader multicultural festival.
I take this opportunity to briefly talk about these events and to highlight the social and economic contribution made by the Greek community in South Australia and more particularly in the northern region of Adelaide. South Australia is home to many people of Greek origin and the majority of them came in during the years immediately following World War II. Most of them settled in Adelaide’s western suburbs and are today represented in this place by the member for Hindmarsh, Mr Georganas, but a considerable number of them moved to the northern suburbs of Adelaide. At the time the northern suburbs were regarded as outside of the metropolitan area and, because services were almost non-existent, land was more affordable.
The new arrivals secured employment wherever they could and supplemented their income by growing vegetables. Life was not easy for them and in those years government welfare and social assistance was non-existent. They very much relied on each other for support. They worked hard, educated their children, built their homes and contributed to the economic growth of Adelaide’s northern suburbs, which today have become the growth heartland of Adelaide. In time, as they became more settled, many of them branched out into business and, as was the case with other new settlers, they began integrating into the broader Australian community. Today people of Greek origin can be found in all walks of Australian life—in leadership positions and in all professions, trades and vocations. That is very much the case with the Greek community in Adelaide’s northern region.
While they have integrated into Australian life, they have also ensured that they have retained their cultural identity by establishing their own facilities. The Greek Florina social club was formed and now has its own clubrooms. Over the years I have joined the Greek community at many functions there. The Florina Soccer Club was also established and participates in the local amateur soccer competition. The St Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church, built in the 1980s, has in recent years purchased additional land. An R-12 school and multi-use community facilities have been established alongside the church. The classrooms have also been made available to other cultural groups. Greek language is taught at the school and a Greek youth arts and dancing group has also been established there.
Much credit for the Salisbury Greek Festival and the St Dimitrios parish feast goes to the parish priest, Father Christos Tsoraklidis, who has been a civic leader in the northern Adelaide community and clearly a leader of the Greek community. In 2009 Father Christos was named as a Salisbury Living Legend. This public recognition is given each year by Salisbury council to several individuals who are outstanding community role models. I have known Father Christos, his wife, Cathy, and their children for many years and I know that he is held in very high regard by both the Greek community and the wider Salisbury community. I also know how hard he works for the community and how committed he is to making the region a better place in which to live for all who settle in the area.
I grew up amongst the Greek people in northern Adelaide and I look forward to attending the St Dimitrios feast each year because it enables me to catch up with many of the Greek friends that I have made over the years. Just as importantly, however, many of the post-war Greek migrants are now elderly people. They rely on others for transport and generally do not get out of their homes as much as they used to. The annual parish feast and the Greek festival provide them with a day when they can celebrate their heritage, reacquaint with friends and enjoy the traditional foods and music. I congratulate all those who make these events possible and I pay tribute to the contribution made by the Greek migrants to the development of Adelaide’s northern region.