“Our community, our paroikia, can only improve through initiatives that enhance cross-collaboration, activism and interest in community affairs, as well as sharing insight and experience,” said Tammy Iliou, Vice-President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) at the opening of the inaugural Women’s Forum.
Greek-Australian women representing a diverse range of community organisations met at the Greek Centre last Sunday to discuss and design the pathway for active participation of women in Greek community organisations and affairs.
The President of the GCM, Bill Papastergiadis, on behalf of the Board of Directors, endorsed the Forum and its objectives and congratulated Tammy Iliou for her vision to create and lead this initiative. Mr Papastergiadis thanked all his Board for their continued support to developing the Forum and their participation.
The Greek Consul Georgia Mpotsiou, representing the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne Dimitris Mihalopoulos, Maria Vamvakinou MP, Federal Member for Calwell, and Kat Theophanous MP, Victorian Member for Northcote also participated. There was also representation from interstate Greek community organisations.
“I want you to know that you are all playing an important role in moving this organisation, and the many community organisations that are here today, forward – and to be more inclusive,” Tammy Iliou said in her opening speech. “This change starts with you and your presence. Balance is better. And, that is why we are here today”.
The GCM announced the following initiatives:
• “Εσύ: Women Inspiring Change” – to identify and brand this initiative which aims to develop and design the pathways for active participation of women in Greek community organisations and affairs. The logo is attached to this Press Release.
• Upskilling – the GCM will offer women who volunteer on a board of a community organisation access to a free workshop to elevate their understanding of the duties and responsibilities of board directors, good governance and financial literacy. The GCM believes this initiative goes towards increasing the capacity of the individual, their organisation, and therefore our community’s capacity as a whole.
• Continuation of the Women’s Forums – the GCM will continue to host Women’s Forums to facilitate and progress dialogue and the creation of a tailor created Slack Channel.
• Mentoring – the GCM will facilitate a guidance program for women who are under 25 years old and who are interested in community affairs to be partnered with women are involved in community affairs.
In addition, the GCM received a number of proposals during the Forum, and it is excited to look into these in further detail.
“Today is a launching day, and from now on, we will focus on delivering these, as well as other initiatives and ideas– and delivering these in the most efficient way,” Tammy Iliou said.
The Forum consisted of three panel discussion. Participants had the opportunity to share experience, insight and advice within a supportive and encouraging environment.
Forum participants agreed that being involved in an organisation, in a voluntary capacity is difficult. Work, family, health and general life keeps everyone busy. But, at the same time, there is recognition of the importance of our Greek heritage, our community, and more broadly, volunteerism.
Forum participants also discussed results of a survey conducted by the GCM prior to the Forum, including findings on key issues which affect Greek-Australian women and initiatives that could enhance ongoing dialogue, active participation and create pathways into community organisations, especially at the leadership level.
The day also showcased a range of creative women in our community, including a musical performance, live-painting demonstration, as well as dancing, food and wine.
The GCM looks forward to its next event as part of its “Esi: Women Inspiring Change” targeted at designing pathways and opening dialogue and networking opportunities for all women of our community.