PHOTO: Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameus. Photo: Eurokinissi/Vassilis Papadopoulos
At a time when Greek language learning is facing critical struggles in the Antipodes, news that Manos Tzimbragos, the highly respected Education Officer and Principal of the Greek Community of Melbourne’s Language & Culture Schools is forced to leave after seven and a half years in the role.
In a letter to parents, Mr Tzimbragos wrote: “This decision has been dictated by my professional commitments in Greece. As you may know, in recent years I have been in Melbourne on unpaid leave from my teaching position in Greece. Sad as it might be, the leave I am entitled to is expiring soon and I must return to my duties in Athens. Despite the sincere efforts and intervention of the Greek Community of Melbourne to the Hellenic Ministry of Education, my stay in Melbourne cannot be extended.”
The Greek state’s inability to allow this exceptional educator to stay in Victoria to continue his work with the children of the diaspora caused great dismay, drawing much criticism for “Greece’s indifference towards the diaspora”.
Soon after the announcement of Mr Tzimbragos’ departure, a new item of news was unofficially released stating that, in an effort to strengthen bonds between Greece and Australia, the Hellenic National Defence Ministry would appoint a representative in Greece – a role which has not been filled for the last decade.
Though the appointment of the defence representative has yet to be officially corroborated, one thing is certain: The diaspora has more need for an educator like Mr Tzimbragos than from defence chiefs.
In Australia, the Greek language is in danger of disappearing and the pandemic has worsened the situation.
Another way in which Greek-Australian relations can be strengthened would be with the creation of an office of the Greek National Tourism Organisation based in Melbourne. The Greek Community of Melbourne has already offered office space at the Greek Centre on Lonsdale Street free of charge, however a representative has not been forthcoming.
“We are examining the creation of a bureau in Melbourne and we are already discussing this issue with market stakeholders and diaspora leaders who proposed joint actions and collaboration towards the stronger promotion of Greece,” Angela Gerekou, President of the Greek National Tourism Organisation, had said in a previous interview with Neos Kosmos in December 2020.