Greek-Aboriginal Kalliopi (Kelly) Koumalatsou spoke to SBS Greek on the occasion of the peaceful marches and solidarity of the common people in Australia with the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States.
Kalliopi Koumalatsou’s father, Dimitrios, immigrated to Australia from the island of Samos and her mother was a Wergaia Wemba-Wemba woman, an Aboriginal Australian group in north-western Victoria.
Koumalatsou was born in Echuca, northwestern Victoria, and spent her childhood in the suburb of Brunswick in Melbourne.
Speaking to SBS Greek, she first referred to the protest marches in the United States. In fact, 15 years ago, her mother referred to the tragic situation of African-American rights there and had, in a way, predicted today’s mobilizations.
Speaking about the marches in Australian cities, she commented: “I am thankful that the protests here were peaceful, the people did go out and demonstrated for Americans and particularly for Aboriginal people.”
Koumalatsou refers to the fact that only a few of the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s proposals for the death of Aborigines during their police detention, a process completed in 1987, became state laws.
“You get a lot of Aboriginal people with a lot of issues because for more than two centuries they been denied basic human rights. They were even forbidden to see their own family and forced into places like concentration camps. They were not given any other choice. They had to stay in those compounds, and they were often not allowed to see their immediate or extended family. That was by law and they would have punished,” she said.
The artist, whose artwork received the top distinction from the Government of Victoria and the Koorie Art Show in December 2019, told SBS Greek that some progress has been made.
“I guess the fact that I am talking to you on a Greek radio program shows that we have developed some strong connections, ethically and morally. The fact that you are interested in talking to me as a Greek Aboriginal person shows that we have come a long way,” she said.
For health reasons, she was unable to attend the marches.
“If I was younger and I didn’t have a medical condition compromising, I would definitely want to be there,” she said.