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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6179

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (4:15 PM) —I rise today to pay tribute to and to congratulate Michael Christodoulou, a resident of Marrickville in my electorate of Grayndler. He was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the Greek and Cypriot communities, particularly through the promotion of cultural diversity, reconciliation and harmony.

Michael Christodoulou migrated to Australia in 1971 from Cyprus with his mother, three brothers and sister. The death of his father when he was seven months old had a profound effect on the family as they struggled to make ends meet. Michael’s eldest brother, Tony, was forced to leave school and work to help to support the family. It was in these early years that Michael’s commitment to social justice was forged. He never forgot his difficult upbringing and the help of others who assisted his family in tough times. It was these life-shaping experiences that led Michael to undertake his vocation in volunteering.

Michael’s philosophy is simple and based on three principles: first, to promote harmony; second, to encourage education and social justice; and, third, to fight for human rights. Michael believes that Australia is the land of opportunity where, if you work hard, you will be rewarded. He aspires, therefore, to give this opportunity to other fellow Australians. Michael is a strong believer that education is the foundation stone on which a better society and better local communities are built. Michael has devoted his adult life to helping others in need and for the past 17 years has volunteered.

In his distinguished vocation of volunteering, Michael has served as: the coordinator of the UN Human Rights Day committee for 12 years; the Director of the Stanmore Hawks Soccer Club; the longest serving President of the Cyprus Community of Sydney and New South Wales; the chairman of the Cyprus community’s age-care home; the Secretary of the Ethnic Communities Council of New South Wales; the chairman of the Illawarra, Nepean, Blacktown, Liverpool, Macarthur and Hunter regional advisory councils; the President of the Federation of Cyprus Communities and Organisations of Australia and New Zealand; the Treasurer of the World Council of Greeks Abroad; the Chairman of the Hellenic Emergency Relief Fund; and the Commissioner of the Community Relations Commission of New South Wales.

Michael’s time and effort spent volunteering has also produced many benefits for the community, including helping to fundraise more than $800,000 since 2000 for the Cyprus community’s age-care home, more than $230,000 for the establishment of a permanent modern Greek unit at the University of New South Wales, money for the 2006 Austcare Lebanon crisis relief appeal, money for the 2007 Greek bushfire appeal and $80,000 for the Victoria bushfire appeal.

However, it is Michael’s fundamental passion in promoting justice for Cyprus and tirelessly working to reconcile the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and promote harmony in Australia and abroad which he is most known for. Michael Christodoulou is an outstanding and deserving recipient of this honour. His selfless devotion and commitment to improving the lives of others is an inspiration to all. I congratulate him on his award. (Time expired)