Hellenic Chair for Global Diasporas beneficial for all Australians: Minister Alex Hawke

Hellenic Chair for Global Diasporas beneficial for all Australians: Minister Alex Hawke 1

Australian Federal Minister Alex Hawke, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs and Member for Mitchell, NSW, recently visited the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus to celebrate the final stages of appointment of a Hellenic Senior Lecturer in Global Diasporas in association with the Greek Community of Melbourne, and to meet with Provost, Professor Nicola Phillips (Acting Vice Chancellor).

The Greek Community of Melbourne has championed efforts to establish a Hellenic Chair in Global Diasporas, working with the Faculty of Arts and the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board to raise necessary funds.  The Senior Lectureship is an inaugural appointment ahead of a fully established Chair.

Minister Hawke’s visit provided an opportunity for the University, Greek Community and Minister to come together in support of this position, which acknowledges the role of the Greek community in helping to build Melbourne into a thriving multicultural city.  Reverend Professor Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, underlined that “the position signals the Faculty’s commitment to new ways of working in partnership with communities to tackle key social issues and imagine more humane futures for all”.

The University of Melbourne received $2.5 million in funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment, under the Higher Education Support Act 2003, to establish the Chair in the School of Culture and Communication of the Faculty of Arts at the University.

The Hellenic Chair in Global Diasporas in association with the Greek Community of Melbourne will lead research in the field of global diaspora studies, promote an understanding of Greek society within broader cultural studies, and engage the wider public on the relevance of Hellenism and global diasporas.  The role of the Chair also comprises the promotion of an interdisciplinary research culture and engagement with diasporic communities.

On the visit and progress, Minister Hawke commented that:

“The Morrison Government is proud to be supporting the Greek Community of Melbourne and the University of Melbourne to establish the Hellenic Chair in Global Diasporas at the School of Culture and Communications at the University of Melbourne.

“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with representatives of both organisations to celebrate their progress toward establishing this important academic position, that  will contribute to Australia’s social cohesion and build greater understanding of global diaspora communities, for the benefit of all Australians.”

GCM Board member and education convenor Dr Nick Dallas says “The Hellenic Chair in Global Diasporas will bolster the quality of Australia’s higher education sector by exploring the impact of Hellenic diaspora linkages on cultural diversity, on spurring entrepreneurship and on transferring new knowledge and skills, as well as promoting research and scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities in Australia. It is also envisaged that Greek language and culture units would be offered as breadth subjects once the program commences. Furthermore it is anticipated that collaborative links with the Greek Studies program at La Trobe University, which houses the Dardalis Archives of the Hellenic Diaspora, will be developed.”

President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Mr Bill Papastergiadis OAM has been a key champion of this initiative and lobbied the Federal Government for the funding.  Mr Papastergiadis OAM, has worked closely with the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board and the Faculty of Arts over many years to galvanise support for this important academic position.  Mr Papastergiadis says “education is a cornerstone of Greek culture particularly for its diaspora.  This chair is evidence of the importance and relevance of the diaspora in the development of our multicultural cosmopolitan society.  Research that will be undertaken in this faculty will greatly enhance our understanding as a diaspora of our needs and this will help us to navigate a way forward with new projects and initiatives”.