The Greek Orthodox Community of SA together with local Greek associations and businesses have partnered with the Bank of Sydney to establish a Community Relief Fund amongst other initiatives in support of the fire affected areas. The proceeds of this Disaster Fund aims to support communities across the Rafina region and areas where the fires have destroyed everything in their path.
Tonight, we are gathered to show our solidarity with those who have been tragically affected by the recent fires in Greece.
Wildfires are an unspeakable horror and our hearts go out to those who have been affected by last week’s devastating events.
I thank the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia, together with local Greek Associations and Businesses who have initiated tonight’s meeting.
Tonight is about exchanging ideas and establishing a Coordinating Committee that will assist and guide the South Australian community in how to contribute and help those affected.
This wildfire has been described as the deadliest to hit Greece in decades.
Almost 100 people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes.
Over half of the affected area is listed as residential, with more than 2,000 homes damaged in the Rafina area.
Our thoughts are with the people of Greece during this tragic time.
The State of South Australia and Greece have a very strong and special relationship built on the connections of our family and community ties over many decades.
Greek migration to South Australia began in the nineteenth century.
And today, our Greek community continues to enrich South Australia in so many ways – economically, socially and culturally.
So in any way we can, we must stand by our Greek friends in their time of tragedy and need, strengthening our relationship as we do by offering our compassion and support.
As Australians, we know only too well the sudden impact that major fires can have on livelihoods, communities and most particularly, on loved ones.
We know that what can help to sustain people through such indiscriminate tragedy and restore normality is community spirit.
It is community spirit that will sustain those Greek communities and families who lost everything last week, as they set about rebuilding townships and restoring faith in humanity.
Even if that community spirit is now needed most on the other side of the world, we can re-enforce it by our help to those people who are still grappling with what they have lost.
I look forward to learning of the outcomes from tonight’s meeting, and where our support is needed the most.
I know Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated his support and condolences to Prime Minister Tsipras, indicating that the rest of Australia also stands ready to assist the people of Greece to respond to this disaster.
And, as I look around the room tonight, I know the South Australian community stands ready too.
Thank you to my parliamentary colleagues who have shown their support tonight, as well as local councillors, Members of the SAMEAC Board, local community leaders from different multicultural backgrounds, and other concerned citizens who have joined us.
We stand as the South Australian community to support our Greek friends here and in Greece in their time of great need.
Tonight is an occasion to openly discuss opportunities to fundraise for the victims of the wildfire, and to establish an Organising Committee.
To support this effort, I advise that on behalf of all South Australians, the State Government will provide financial support to this cause.
We will announce our contribution soon as a demonstration that South Australia stands with you and will support you.
Thank you again to the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia for instigating tonight’s meeting.
Our thoughts remain with those in Greece who are still coming to terms with what happened last week.
We hope they will be sustained by the knowledge that right around the world, there are people wanting to help.