The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) welcomed the announcement of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, Terence Quick, about the implementation of the bilateral agreement for the Working Holiday Visa between Australia and Greece, which allows young people to visit each country respectively with the right to work.
GCM’s President, Bill Papastergiadis, said that the agreement was an initiative of the Greek Community. Since the beginning of 2010 the GCM commenced talks with the then Minister of Immigration, Mr Chris Bowen, on the issue of the increased immigration of Greek citizens to Australia and the signing of a Working Holiday Visa agreement with Greece. Subsequently, various representations were made to other relevant bodies both in Australia and in Greece, as well as meetings with government officials.
"This effort began in 2010 when we saw a large stream of Greek citizens, coming to Australia with a tourist visa seeking work and trying to stay in the country," Papastergiadis said.
"We quickly realised that our organisation needed to do something to help these people, who in many cases worked illegally. They could also be exploited as they did not have a working visa and the same rights as the Australian citizens. Also, a study by the General Secretary of the GCM, Mr Costas Markos, found that European Union countries had Working Holiday Visa agreements with Australia except Greece. Today, because Australia has 5% unemployment and adequately funded social infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and transportation, is the ideal time this agreement to be implemented.”
Mr Papastergiadis welcomed Mr. Quick's immediate response on the issue. "We appreciate his response on this issue, because in the meetings he had with me and with Costas Markos in Athens, he had assured us that the matter will be his priority and within a short time he did so while keeping us informed on the developments,” he said.
“Australia and Greece share a rich history. The cultural, economic and military ties between the two countries are further enhanced by this agreement, which allows the governments of both countries to cooperate in many economic areas. Australia, with more than 700,000 people of Greek descent, offers ideal commercial and investment opportunities.”
GCM’s General Secretary Mr Costas Markos said that he is pleased with this development, as the efforts of many years have finally paid off.