House debates

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Constituency Statements

Patsikatheodorou, Mrs Helen

5:55 pm

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I want to pay tribute to Helen Patsikatheodorou, who is a proud recipient of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday 2021 Honours List. I have known Helen for almost 40 years. I first met her through my very good friend the late John Patsikatheodorou and my most vivid memory of Helen on the day when I met her was that she was wearing an Indian sari at a Greek dinner-dance. I was to learn very quickly that Helen was a unique person who could really be at home with any group of people at any one time. Helen, in the ensuing years, has raised three wonderful boys, Dimtri, Stratos and Nikolas. She is the proud grandmother to baby Ioannis and baby Clio. She's mother-in-law to Dimitra and Erica and is eagerly awaiting the wedding of her youngest son, Nikolas, to his partner Raveena. Her husband, John, the love of her life, died unexpectedly three years ago. John and Helen were a great double-act. They supported each other in everything they did. His loss was a blow, but she's showed amazing courage and continues to do her community work knowing and believing, as she says to me and to all of us, that John is always still around.

Most of Helen's life has been dedicated to the service of our community. Her far-reaching impact is reflected in the various organisations and activities she has helped to shape for the many that benefit from her contribution. She was director of the multicultural childcare centre established by Ford Broadmeadows to accommodate the childcare needs of its very diverse migrant workforce. She remains a leading member of various organisations across our very vibrant multicultural community. Helen went on to work in my office before she ran for the Hume City Council, where she served for eight years and twice she was mayor. Helen was well known at that time as our 'pink mayor', a mantra she took on by vowing to wear something pink every day of her mayoral term to promote breast cancer screening and awareness, a cause very close to her heart, having fought her own battle with breast cancer. Her close knowledge of the large non-English speaking constituency meant that she made sure that all women had access to vital information and she helped to shatter the stigma and reluctance associated with breast cancer.

Upon retiring from council, she returned to my office where she continues to deliver for the community. She has a gift for getting results for our constituents, with the most complex and seemingly impossible cases always referred to Helen for resolution. Helen was also awarded the Banksia Gardens Community Services Robert Kumar Community Award in 2018 for her outstanding contribution. The strength of Helen's contributions can't be captured in this speech today, nor can her impact on the many people whose lives and circumstances she has touched and continues to touch and help and continues to help. This is a very well deserved recognition award. Congratulations, Helen.