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Greeks Flee to Australia Escaping Economic Crisis

Australia has become a haven for Greek families fleeing the financial crisis in their homeland, say
Greek community leaders.
The desire to migrate to countries like Australia has stemmed from the collapse of the Greek
economy that began in 2008.
The Hellenic Initiative (THI) was founded in Greece in 2012 by the CEO of the association, Myles
Presler and was initiated in order to provide relief and recovery for victims of this economic crisis.
“The aim of this association is to mobilize the Greek diaspora and philhellene communities to
support the relief, recovery and economic development of Greece,” said Mr Presler.
“In the short term, THI is supporting strong non-profit organizations that are providing crisis relief
through food aid, medical care and some financial support for those in need.”
The Hellenic Initiative’s main focus is to engage Greek communities around the world in programs
which are focused on crisis relief for Greeks in need.
“We have initially chosen and disbursed $650k to three non-profit organizations which are SOS-
Children’s Villages, Apostoli/IOCC, and Praksis and we have announced an additional $350k for two
more; ASHOKA and Together for Children,” said Mr Presler.
“More than 30 percent of children in Greece live in Poverty.... Our association needs the help of
economically stable countries like Australia to help those suffering and ultimately take Greece out of
its recession and on the path to recovery,” he said.
Australia’s role in this crisis has been vital, with Department of Immigration figures showing a 61.5
percent increase in the number of temporary and permanent Australian visas granted for Greek
nationals from 2011 to 2013.
Leaders in the Greek Community of Brisbane say that relatives in Australia are doing all they can to
support their families back in Greece.
Chairman of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George Chris Kazonis is among those Australians
trying to help families in Greece.
“The Greek community of Brisbane has rallied together and shown our support to loved ones by
donating money, care packages and clothes to families suffering in Greece,” said Mr Kazonis.
“The Greek Club in West End, Brisbane, has sponsored and given jobs to over 70 young adults and
older members of the Greek Community who have migrated from Greece.”
As a member of the Greek community himself, and with relatives in Greece, Mr Kazonis has
witnessed first-hand the struggles these people face in getting their families to Australia.
“Most families don’t have the money to migrate to Australia. The poor economy in Greece has left
many parents without a job and so it is our duty as their relatives and support network to help these
suffering families make the move to Australia,” said Mr Kazonis.
This national disaster forced more than 1.2 million Greeks to migrate from their homeland in 2010.
Husband and father Vageli Vorgo was among those 1.2 million people as he uprooted his family and
fled to Australia.
Mr Vorgo speaks out about the struggles he and his family faced migrating to Australia and how
grateful they are to be in this country.
“My wife and I left Greece in 2010 with our nine year old son for a better life. The poor economy
meant that I only had a job as a chef in the summer months and in winter, I was unemployed,” he
“It was not easy getting to Australia. However, I was lucky enough to get sponsored by a restaurant
owner in Cairns.”
“He was holidaying in Epirus, in Greece and staying in my village. He came to the restaurant I worked
in and offered me a job as a chef in his Greek restaurant in Cairns.”
Six months ago, The Greek Club in Brisbane hired Mr Vorgo as the Executive Chef at the Odyssey
Taverna and also hired his wife as a functions chef.
“We are now earning an income all year round and our salaries allow us to give our son the life he
deserves,” said Mr Vorgo.
For those still living in Greece, the effects of this debt-crisis have been devastating. In the first four
years of the crisis, suicides in Greece increased by 45 percent.
In 2011, 43 percent of suicide deaths involved unemployed people. This number is steadily
increasing as unemployment rates also increase.
Among the 1.37 million unemployed in Greece, is resident and citizen, Despina Kritikos.
Mrs Kritikos was born and raised in Australia but moved to Greece thirty years ago after meeting her
husband on a holiday.
She now lives in Rhodes with her three children and husband. These past five years have been no
easy walk for the mother of three.
“Every day is a struggle. My husband and I are both unemployed at the moment, putting a great
strain on our financial and personal lives,” said Mrs Kritikos.
“We have resorted to growing as many fruit and vegetables as we can and raising goats on our
property to feed the family.”
Mrs Kiritikos’s situation is compounded by fears for her children’s safety, after a recent riot in
Rhodes saw protesters throw fire bombs and rocks at police in the town square.

“My children are old enough now to go out on their own and stay out late. I worry about them all
night, wondering if they will come home injured from the mass riots,” she said.

Mrs Kritikos was devastated last year when her second eldest daughter, Evangelia, left Greece and
moved to Finland as she knew there would be no future for her in Rhodes.

“As a parent, it kills you to see your child go... I feel like I failed my children. I tried to give them the
best life and every opportunity but in the end it wasn’t enough, “said Mrs Kritikos.

Figure 1.0

Figure 1.1

Name: Myles Presler
Position: CEO and founder of The Hellenic Initiative
Contact Details:

Name: Chris Kazonis
Position: Chairman of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George
Contact Details:

Name: Vageli Vorgo
Position: Executive Chef at The Greek Club
Contact Details:

Name: Despina Kritikos
Position: Greek resident and citizen
Contact Details:

Name: Andrew Liveris
Position: CEO of The DOW Chemical Company
Contact Details: