Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Greek Welfare Centre 40th Anniversary Dinner

Location: Clarence House, Belmore, New South Wales


Thank you very, very much, John, always a pleasure – and what a wonderful MC job you do.

Can I just start by acknowledging my parliamentary colleagues; John Sidoti and Sophie Cotsis who are with us here today.

To Your Grace Bishop Seraphim, representing His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos; Reverend Fathers; Dr Stavros Kyrimis, – your very, very hard working Consul-General who does deserve a round of applause because of his very hard work; to Angelo Hatsatouris, Chair of Greek Welfare Centre and your team; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here this evening as Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs representing the Prime Minister, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Tonight is a wonderful celebration of the 40 years of service of the Greek Welfare Centre to the Greek communities across Australia.

The Prime Minister sends his best wishes and his congratulations are also contained in the booklet you have on your tables.

The mission of the Greek Welfare Centre has been to provide services and programs to assist members of the Greek community.

And can I also add my tribute to Archbishop Stylianos, to Your Grace and to all the Reverend Fathers for all the work that you have done consistently over a long period of time, it has been the privilege of respective governments to support you over the 40 years.

The hard work over many, many years ensures that services in aged care, mental health, drug/alcohol and gambling and children’s services are delivered across Australia.

You now have expanded offices in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia. I have had the privilege of seeing your work first hand, in particular some of the work that you do through the aged care homes with St Basils Home Care.

And the significant achievement in four decades and underpinned by the values of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia which considers provision of welfare and community services, as your Chairman has rightly said, to be a sacred task.

As the daughter of migrants myself, I understand the hard work and sacrifices millions of people have made in coming to Australia to build a better life for themselves and their children. And today in particular, it is the generation of our parents that we need to support, and support very well.

We have an ageing population, it is one of the biggest social issues that does face our country and it’s important that our elderly, particularly our elderly from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are appropriately looked after.

Thirty-six per cent of Australians aged 65 and over were born overseas.[1] In our multicultural mainstream Australia, the people who are aging today and the leading communities that are facing this are the Italian community and the Greek community followed by others.

You helped build this nation, and therefore it is our duty to do what ever we can to continue to ensure that those who helped build this great country are looked after with dignity.

As I said, aging is of course, one of the biggest issues in our multicultural community, and from the government perspective it we’re dedicated to ensuring our culturally and linguistically diverse people do have dignified aged care, and also care that reflects their cultural heritage.

Respective governments have been pleased to support the Greek Welfare Centre over many, many years, and I am sure this has been on a bipartisan basis.

Can I conclude by congratulating you for 40 years, to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, to the Greek Welfare Centre and most especially can I pay tribute to the thousands of volunteers who have contributed endless hours to support your community.

Tonight is a night of memories, it’s also a night of celebration – can I congratulate you and wish you the best for the future.

Thank you.