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Report to the Legislative Assembly by Mr Peter Toyne pursuant to section 9 1(e) of the Remuneration Tribunal Determination



Report to the Legislative Assembly by Mr Peter Toyne pursuant to section 9 1(e) of the Remuneration Tribunal Determination

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Tabled Paper 2400


Tabled papers for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT






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V DEBATES - Wednesday 21 February 2001 about why these trips are being planned and carried out, and what sort of outcomes are being achieved for Territorians when we go on such trips. We in undertaking this trip followed our own steps to make sure that the trip was actually very transparent - the reasons for going, the objectives that we had. And we are now in the process of reporting back the outcomes to the Greek community and to Territorians as a whole. The reasons for the trip began with fairly wide consultation we were having in the context of going to Greek public events with various Greek associations and societies around Darwin, and in the context of individual households that we were doorknocking. Several major themes came out of the Greek community as a result of these discussions. The first was that the Greeks in Darwin do feel under-reported in terms of their cultural life, their life as Hellenes living out the Greek culture, the Greek religion, maintaining the Greek language into the next generation of their family. These arent things that should be taken lightly, and if they are neglected by a cultural group they can very quickly degrade into not having a really strong culture at all. Certainly, the language can disappear very quickly. There are ethnic groups within Australia which have experienced that loss of their home culture and their home language fairly quickly in their immigrant history, once they come to Australia. Having been married into a Greek family for 30 years, I know the Greek people are particularly respectful and mindful of their cultural roots and the need to maintain them wherever they might live around the world. Greek people are very ready to go away from the home country and they live literally in every comer of the globe. I guess it might be that outward-looking aspect of their culture which goes back even to ancient times that has engendered that in the Greek community here in Darwin as well. We have the basis of a strong ethnic community here. St Nicholass, the local Greek church, the Greek school, and the various societies and associations are certainly a good infrastructure to maintain the community in a strong and vibrant form. But what was said to us is that there needs to be a much more reliable supply of Greek language teachers. There needs to be much more connection with cultural events and cultural tours from the home country. There needs to be there stronger awareness, both in the Northern Territory and in Greece, of the economic interrelationships that automatically exist between the two places, simply because people still have family and they still move between the two places on a regular basis. Related to that, particularly in the Kalymnian community, we were made aware that the current downturn in the Northern Territory construction industry was having impacts not only here on the Kalymnian families living in Darwin, but also back in Kalymnos. Because of the strong proportion of the Greek community that originated from the island of Kalymnos, that is clearly an important area to connect to for any member of parliament here who wants to understand the origins and connections of the Greeks living in the Northern Territory. We had a series of discussions, probably over a period of 18 months, to work out which areas the community here would like work done on by either side of parliament. Ill say this, there have been quite a number of previous visits by the CLP, particularly by Chief Ministers - I think six so far. And I applaud that. I think that we were probably remiss on our side of the House in taking so long to get out and understand what these connections are in full. Im not setting out in this speech at all to say that it is a bad thing to go out there. Im just saying that if anything, we waited too long to go and repeat the work, or add in to the work, that has already been done by Chief Ministers - particularly Shane Stone, who is still thought of with great fondness around the parts of Greece that we visited as well. We also had contact with the Australian Hellenic community. I want to say at this stage the High Commissioner for Cyprus in Canberra was extremely helpful in setting up the contacts that we needed to make in Cyprus when we got there. We also had formal meetings with the National Centre for a Hellenic Studies and Research, particularly their director, Taxnis Tollis, and the chairman of their Society of Friends, Mr Paniotis Liveriadis. Through those connections, which I guess partly depended on my wifes family associations, we were able to access areas of the Hellenic parliament and the academic community in Greece, and the Cultural Ministry in Cyprus, that were possibly not going to be open to us without that sponsorship. I think it is very important to realise that Greek society is very, very family-oriented. So often, even up to the highest levels of government, it is very important to work through the kinship relationships that exist in Greek families. So the role of my wife Theodora in accompanying us to Greece was certainly as an interpreter but also, equally importantly, to open up quite a number of contacts that proved to be important in the work that we did. Having been to Melbourne and meeting with the members of the National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research, we then briefed the media on what we were going out to Greece to achieve. That was done before we left and it was done in an open media conference. There was no control over what we were 42

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