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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 11626

Mr GEORGANAS (12:45 PM) —I had the honour and pleasure last Sunday, 25 October, to be invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Messinian Association of South Australia. I would like to congratulate the Messinian Association for all the good work that they do in the community and in the western suburbs of Adelaide in South Australia. As I say, I had the pleasure of attending that celebration last Sunday, together with the Attorney-General and a state minister, the local member for the area, Tom Koutsantonis, and the Mayor of West Torrens, John Trainer.

The association was formed in 1959, and Sunday’s gathering was to celebrate the 50 years of this association’s existence. It was founded by Greek migrants from the Messinian region of the south-western tip of the Peloponnese. In 1959, fifty years ago, a group of people got together and thought it was appropriate to form a social club to service the needs of those very early migrants who had migrated from that region to South Australia. The Messinian Association has serviced the community for 50 years, and it has expanded from those early days when it was basically a social club for those people. Today it has a very successful soccer club and social club. It has dance classes. It has morning teas for pensioners and a monthly barbecue. The club has grown to a membership of 400 or 500 people at this stage.

Many of the people who became members and were part of the inaugural group in 1959 were there, and major awards were given out to two of them. One award was to Angelo Bouzalas, who was a founding member and on the steering committee that got the club going. It was lovely to see him on Sunday and have a chat to him. The other award was to Theodora Mihalopoulos. She had served on the women’s auxiliary for many years and has been one of the engines of the club, always working in the kitchen and always one of the first to put her hand up to volunteer. The club would not survive without the many volunteers it has, and they do work very hard. I know this firsthand, because I was a member of their committee for many years. They work extremely hard. They bought a building back in the late 1980s and today they have converted that building into a beautiful reception centre where they have all their functions and lots of other events for the local area.

The Messinians who came to South Australia back in those days can be very proud people. They have had children and grandchildren, and there were many there on Sunday from the third generation, many of them in the professions. But I will make a quick mention of the politics that runs in the blood of these people, because here in Australia alone we have quite a few members of parliament who are either children of some of those Messinians who migrated to Australia back in the early fifties or are themselves Messinians who came over here at a very young age. For example, John Pantazopoulos, the former minister for tourism and member of the upper house in Victoria is of Messinian descent. Steven Kons, the Attorney-General of Tasmania, is a descendant of the Messinians. Tom Koutsantonis is the Minister for Volunteers and Minister for Correctional Services in South Australia. Jenny Mikakos is also from the Victorian state parliament. Nick Kotsiras is from the opposition in Victoria. And there is, of course, me. That is just to name a few. I am sure I have missed someone; if I have, I apologise to them.

The Messinian Association is an important part of the vibrant multicultural fabric of the community of South Australia. As I said, the association is a centre of cultural activity. We see many cultural events in this magnificent building that they have down in the suburb of Torrensville. Again, I would like to congratulate the volunteers; the president, Andrew Marantos; the secretary, Con Bouras; and the whole committee, for putting the event together. I am sure that the foundations they have built there will serve many more generations of Greek-Australian Messinians for many years to come in the western suburbs of Adelaide.