The Hellenic Initiative Australia has secured through the programs implemented in Greece, medical equipment in hospitals in Argos, Galatas, Ioannina, Kastoria, Kythira, access to medical services for more than 3,000 people, support to hundreds of homeless people in Attica, tons of food to citizens in need.
The Greek newspaper “Kathimerini” makes an extensive tribute to the continuous offer of the organization since its establishment in 2014 as reported by vema.com.au.
In the seven years that have passed, the organization has offered more than two million Australian dollars and in April alone nearly $ 50,000 was given to support Together for the Child, Wise Greece and Desmos – the ten organizations supported by the Greek Initiative Australia is completed by Axion Hellas, We Can, Doctors of the World, Emfasis Foundation, SOS Children’s Villages, Association for the Treatment of Child Trauma, Tipping Point.
“Our vision is a robust and sustainable Greece,” said HIA Chief Executive Stergitsa Zamagias-Hill, a Sydney-born Greek immigrant parent from Kos, which she frequently visits.
The Hellenic Initiative of Australia was founded at the end of 2014, at the invitation of Andrew Liveris, co-founder of the Hellenic Initiative, which had started two years earlier in the US as a global movement in support of Greece through charitable initiatives.
Since then, the Hellenic Australia Initiative has been active as a national organization, involving prominent members of the Greek-Australian community (lawyers, academics, doctors, bankers) from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin and Perth.
“I am very proud because when we first met in Sydney and addressed the Greek-Australian community to see how we can harness our passion for Greece, the response was astonishing,” recalls Nicholas Pappas, president of the Initiative, lawyer and chair of Bank of Sydney.
His father, he says, left Kastellorizo in 1943, “when the Axis Powers were bombing his island” and his family has always been active in the Greek-Australian community, “a tradition I am proud to continue,” he emphasized. “Our job is not only to help Greece and its citizens in these difficult times but also to strengthen the ties between us and the Greek Diaspora around the world.”
“Greece will forever have a special place in the hearts and minds of Greek-Australians and we have seen first hand how eager they are to contribute to the country in these difficult times,” said Zamagias-Hill, who, along with her spouse, has been active for decades for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
The members of the Hellenic Initiative of Australia work in their local communities to inform and raise support and resources for their actions in the areas of education, health, work and economic development and social services, for which they have successfully mobilized Greeks abroad and philhellenes.
Resources of the Hellenic Initiative of Australia
Fundraising for the implementation of the organization’s programs is achieved through annual galas organized in Australian cities, often attended by representatives of beneficiary organizations from Greece, so that they can share their stories and vision with friends and supporters of the Hellenic Initiative of Australia.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many of the galas could not be held, however, some are planned to be organized in the last months of 2021.
Also important is the contribution of individuals and companies that make donations, but also large sponsors such as Con and Rita Berbatis from Perth who donated $ 500,000, enabling the implementation of an annual program of Hellenic Initiative Australia in collaboration with Doctors of the World.
Last November and December, an online fundraising call made it possible to offer food and basic necessities to families in various parts of Greece (Alexandria, Athens, Chios, Kalamata, Kavala, Lamia, Messolonghi, Thessaloniki, Volos).
The organization also enables local actions to fund Greek-Australians wishing to support initiatives in specific areas, which may be their place of origin or their favorite Greek destination.
Finally, the internship program implemented since 2015, under which twenty-six young Greek graduates have traveled to Australia to work in companies gaining valuable experience in their field of specialization is also important.
Solidarity as a core element of the Initiative
Regarding the selection of the organizations supported by the Initiative, it is based on the information received from an extensive network of friends and associates in Greece, who help to find organizations that meet the criteria of supply, transparency and the effectiveness of the Initiative.
Then, the goals and steps for each project are agreed while, on an annual basis, a check is made on whether the terms of the cooperation are observed.
The President of the Hellenic Initiative of Australia, Nicholas Pappas, lives in Athens at least six months a year, while many of the directors of the organization travel to Greece at least once a year, so they have the opportunity to meet representatives of beneficiary organizations, but also to participate voluntarily in their actions – many have taken part in the actions of “We can” and the Emfasis mobile unit.
“As long as Greece and its citizens need it, the Hellenic Initiative of Australia will be by their side,” noted Zamagias-Hill. “As Greece currently struggles with the social and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, it is encouraging to learn that the government shares our vision for a Greece that is at the forefront of digitization and renewable energy.
The Greek Initiative of Australia will focus its efforts in order to promote in the best way in the Greek Diaspora the plans of the Greek government, to contribute to the reversal of the brain drain and to the economic development of the country that has offered us so much.”