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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1170..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

The night itself was a very joyous occasion for the committee. There was a brief history of the good times and the bad times-I think we are all aware that sometimes clubs that we belong to get into the doldrums. They related one incident from the mid-eighties when the club found itself in deep financial trouble. They called together the members who could make it and, on the strength of personal cheques and guarantees given by individuals that night, they were able to bring the club out of the doldrums and put it back on a very strong financial footing; they rescued their club.

The interesting thing is that the Hellenic Club has got something like 50,000 members here in the ACT, which is not bad for a community. I think they said there are about 4000 native born Greek people or their offspring living in the ACT so for a relatively small community it is not a bad effort to have enticed so many of the rest of Canberra to come and join the club. As we all know, the club has grown over the years. It is certainly the biggest Greek club in the country and most of them claim that it may well be the biggest Hellenic club in the entire world. Nobody there who had been in another country was able to dispute that.

The solidarity of the Greek community in the ACT is that they have actually come together as one community; they do not divide up into the provinces or cities of Greece as has happened in other cities of Australia and indeed around the world. So for a city that is celebrating 91 years of existence at the weekend, a club that has survived for 25 of those years is probably not a bad effort. The strength of the club is that the whole focus, I believe, is on the way they look after their youth and they encourage their youth to be part of the club. They also have a succession strategy where there are a number of board members under 30, some are in their 40s and some in their 50s. They have made a concerted effort to ensure that the management of the club is passed on, that the heritage of Greeks in Canberra is maintained and that the club actually is a real member of the community. They are very well known for their generosity and for supporting sport, the arts and culture.

I would like to say to members that it was a fabulous evening. A number of messages were read out, including from the Prime Minister, the federal Leader of the Opposition and from local politicians. Everybody was very accepting of the support that the community had given them and are looking forward to the next 25 years, and 50 years beyond that. To the Hellenic Club of Canberra: well done on your 25th anniversary.

Oxfam Walk Against Want

MS DUNDAS (10.38): I rise to draw the attention of the house to the fact that Sunday 21 March is the Oxfam annual Walk Against Want. The Walk Against Want was first held in 1967 to symbolise the long walk undertaken daily by women in developing countries to fetch water. This year the walk will be five kilometres around Lake Burley Griffin over the two bridges. There will be a festival after the walk with many local bands performing, including some entertainment from fire throwers, and there will even be massages offered. Over the years hundreds of thousands of people, almost four generations of Australians, have participated in the Walk Against Want and in the process they have raised several million dollars for Oxfam's Community Aid Abroad emergency and long-term development work in poor countries around the world.


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