Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Greek National Day Reception


Thank you Your Excellency and Mrs Dafaranos.

I would also like to acknowledge:

  • My parliamentary colleague, Nickolas Varvaris
  • Excellencies, heads of missions in Canberra and members of the diplomatic corps;
  • Chief of Protocol, Mrs Sally Mansfield;
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to be here tonight to celebrate Greek National Day with the opening of this stunning exhibition.

I would like to congratulate Dr Simoni Zafiropoulos on her collection of beautiful photographs, showcasing Greek women throughout the ages.

From Ancient Greece to modern times, Greek women have played a significant role in their community. Greek women also have a strong historical presence in Australia.

Since the first Greek women arrived in Australia in 1835 we have benefitted from their courage, innovation and fortitude.

Early settler Greek women took on prominent positions in Australian society as wives of Governors, military officers and businessmen. Many were renowned for their philanthropy and charity work.

This spirit of community continued into the early twentieth century, with a growing number of Greek women coming together to form organisations and social groups for newly arrived migrants.

These networks helped women develop a sense of belonging in Australia while staying connected to their culture.

Over the last century Greek women have cemented their place in Australian history by serving in our armed services and starting families and businesses across the country.

Women of Greek background continue to make an enormous contribution to Australian society, including many of you in the room tonight. You have helped make the friendship between our countries as strong as it is today.

Greek Australians form such a strong part of our wonderfully diverse and multicultural nation.

As the daughter of migrants myself, I understand very well that Australia’s cultural diversity is a source of great social and economic strength, and that the contributions of migrants and their families, spanning generations, have helped forge the unique Australian way of life that we enjoy today.

Our successful multicultural society is founded on our commitment to Australia, its laws and its values.

Australia is proud to be a friend of Greece and I look forward to us building an even stronger relationship in the years ahead.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be with you today and I wish you all the best for Greek National Day.