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All aboard the Multicultural Express: Greek band delights passengers on Melbourne’s trains | Neos Kosmos

Five years on the Multicultural Express still runs on Melbourne’s Frankston line

“Welcome to the Multicultural Express!” announced a Greek band as they boarded a Melbourne metro train with a bouzouki, clarinet, lyra and tympanon all in tow.

Train passengers on Melbourne’s metro trains were treated to the sights and sounds of a live traditional Greek band in the trains, thanks to the wildly successful multicultural initiative from Metro Trains and the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM).

After initially being trialed in London to great success, the Multicultural Express was brought to Melbourne in 2013 in an effort to combat racist and anti-social behaviour after a series of racist attacks on the Frankston train line.

In Melbourne there are 10 different ethnic groups playing, from Latin America to Africa as well as three different Greek groups.

The groups are formed with some of Melbourne’s best musicians from a few different genres, to give people a true sense of what Greek music is.
Nick Papaefthimiou has been involved since it all started in 2013.

“The amount of people who walk up and say ‘you’ve made my day’ or ‘you’ve made the trip enjoyable’ and sometimes people that you wouldn’t expect getting into it, get into it quite a bit,” Mr Papaefthimiou told Neos Kosmos.

Mr Papaefthimiou, who teaches Greek dance at GCM, put together the musical program, ensuring a diverse repertoire.

He said the music is diverse and includes clarinet and lute from mainland Greece.

“We’ve had islander music with a lyra and clarino, and we’ve covered Macedonia as well, and rebetika bouzouki so we also did urban Greek music,” he said.

Mr Papaefthimiou said the groups take the task very seriously, and try to educate passengers about Greek music and culture in an aim to eliminate any misconceptions and stereotypes about Greeks.

“The first and most important thing is to introduce people into a new style of music,” Mr Papaefthimiou said.

“What we found is that the youngest generation of Greeks have very little knowledge and understanding of their culture.

“So what they think is traditional Greek culture is Nikos Theodorakis and Zorba the Greek and they’re really touristy, stereotypical images which is far from the truth of what is the true essence of Greek culture.”

He said it is important for the band to show the many aspects of Greek culture that stray away from the anglicised views of the culture in Australia.

 

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A first course of kindness: Athens-based chef Iakovos Apergis cooks up goodwill in Greek hospitals | Neos Kosmos

For chef Iakovos Apergis, it was the influence from his grandparents that inspired him to become a cook; his grandfather was a baker.

Born in Canada in 1974, Iakovos migrated with his family to Greece the year after. A few years after finishing his schooling, and after earning his degree in cookery, and working in a range of kitchens, he became a member of the Academy of Chefs of Greece.

His mother’s experience as a hospital patient inspired him to think of his connection with food as an experience beyond just cooking it: commenting on the food that she received as a patient in hospital, she decribed it as cold and tasteless, not something a sick woman needed.

His mother, who passed away in 2003, was a patient at Piraeus at Tzaneio (Piraeus General Hospital) and that, serendipitously, is where he finds himself working now as head chef, after relatives suggested that he apply.

Iakovos is starting to create change with hospital food because, as he says, food can be, and should be, a positive experience, when it can.

“In a place like the hospital it is very important to [lift a person’s spirits]!” he said.

His work landed him a spot at last year’s TEDxChalkida, the Greek offshoot of TEDTalks, in which he also revealed his charity work with Smile of a Child in Athens’ Peristeri; his establishment of other social ventures, and how he came to redefine hospital food (“because people have the right to eat good food”).

So now, he creates meals imaginatively “well-cooked and delicious, as in gourmet restaurants” and always according to the nutritional guidelines of each patient’s condition.
“I hope I make patients feel more human in the hospital and feel the warmth of their home,” he said.

Many patients have said nice things about his cooking or congratulated him – and the most popular food: the fish burgers.

“I hope that good hospital food stops being news and for us all to be able to better ourselves and realise that food at a hospital is not charity but a responsibility towards the patient,” he said.

“Let’s stop trying to seem human but actually be human and this can only be done with actions and when we give to our fellow human beings, [that’s when] we ultimately give to ourselves!”

This was first published in print and online at Neos Kosmos.

An increase in the teaching ATAR could boost education enrolments | Neos Kosmos

Round 1 offers of places in tertiary courses were delivered to many eager Victorians last week, with more than 50,000 prospective undergraduate students being accepted into their top selection.

Figures released by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), indicated Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne is one of the most popular courses, with 8,505 applications in 2017. Bachelor of Arts courses received a total of 7,093 applications.

VTAC also revealed that the most popular fields were society and culture, health, and architecture and building which saw an increase in applications from previous years.

Following the Round 1 offers, the Victorian Government announced that those wanting to pursue a career in teaching will now need to have a minimum Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of at least 65, increasing to 70 in 2019.

The increase is an effort to ensure that education students in Victoria come from the top 30 per cent of Year 12 graduates.

“We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become a teacher to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms,” Education
Minister James Merlino said.

“We’re building the Education State, investing in our education and training systems so Victorians can get the skills they need for the jobs and futures they want.”

Professor Sophie Arkoudis, Associate Director at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education said such a move is only part of the picture to ensure quality in teaching.

“Entry requirements on their own measure student ability to undertake courses, but what is important is also the nature of their teaching and learning experience within their university studies that also ensure quality,” she said.

But when it comes to education applications and enrolments, recent figures indicate declines in some instances: while applications for undergraduate teaching courses have remained steady, applications for graduate teaching courses have dropped sharply over the last three years.

VTAC issued 641 graduate entry teaching Round 1 offers last week, compared to 1,370 last year.

“The increased casualisation of the teaching workforce over the past 10 years would seem to not be a great incentive for VCE students to select teaching,” Professor Arkoudis said.

Teaching contracts are increasingly being offered as casual placements, meaning applicants may only be employed for a short time and will not receive holiday pay.

Professor Arkoudis said this provides limited security for people to plan for the future and she believes this lack of secure employment may influence a drop in applications.

Professor Stephen Dinham from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education said that there are other issues currently affecting education applications such as an oversupply of primary teachers and the discontinuance of a one-year postgraduate diploma.

“The regulations have changed: instead of being able to do a one-year Diploma of Teaching, they now have to do a two-year Masters. This has meant that the HECS debt has doubled,” Professor Dinham said.

“You’re also missing out on a year of income and it’s quite a disincentive if you want to do a Master of teaching.
“In Victoria you’ve got a situation where people begin on contacts or part-time work and all of these things are disincentives.”

But Professor Dinham is in favour of the teaching ATAR increase, saying that students who receive an ATAR of 80 or 90 who see a lower ATAR for a course might not be enthusiastic to select that course.

“. . . all of this is about raising standards and getting the right people and I think in the long-term it will lead to a higher status profession.”

Round 2 offers for graduate-entry teaching programs were released 19 January and offers for all other university and TAFE courses will be released 2 February.

For more information about VTAC and ATAR score information, visit vtac.edu.au

this article was initially published in print and online at Neos Kosmos.

‘Very soon we will all be forgotten’: Wantirna Park residents vow to continue fighting for tenant rights | Neos Kosmos

Wantirna Park Caravan Park residents lost their homes due to a new development. Con Mylonas shares his story

It’s the story of over 200 caravan park residents who lost their homes when property developer Longriver Group paid $36 million for Wantirna Park Caravan Park last year leaving those who had called it home – some for over 20 years – to relocate and rebuild, at their own cost.

Some of the residents owned their homes but rented the land the homes stand on.

Soon after purchasing the property, Longriver managing director Andrew Yu had attempted to raise residents’ rents by over 50 per cent. After a swift intervention by Consumer Affairs Victoria, park management lowered the increase. Still the rent costs were unaffordable for many residents. Then all residents received notices to vacate by early January 2018.

As an incentive to leave the premises earlier, residents were advised that should they sign the paperwork and leave their homes by 10 July this year, their homes would remain and they could pay reduced rent until the final removal day.
In Victoria, the Resident Tenancy Act 1997 * contains a loophole whereby caravan park tenants can be asked to vacate and not be compensated for their losses.

Some homes were valued at over $150,000, and were sold for as little as $45,000 out of desperation by their owners. All residents, nevertheless, had to find a new location for their homes and pay for removal and demolition costs.

Con Mylonas, a food services technician and father of three, was one of the residents who was impacted.

“It was a beautiful place, homes everywhere, it was something,” he said, walking past the demolished homes at the Wantirna property.

“My house was the house at the end. Look at the destruction. I’ve been here 14 years and I’ve taken loan after loan after loan to build a home that was a bit more respectable and had a bit more space for my three boys when my missus left, and now it’s gone just like that,” he said with an emphatic snap of the fingers. “We came here for a roof, and now they’ve taken the last little bit from us. We are pretty much homeless.”

Mr Mylonas had built a three-bedroom home, and fitted out his property with paving, palms and olive trees, and a pergola. He says he happily raised his sons in his $150,000 home.

But after he learned the park was closing, receiving notice to vacate in December 2016, he hired trucks and cranes to remove and relocate his home, at a cost of around $14,000.

He began receiving sale offers of around $20,000, and received $4,000 support from the state government inclusive of bond money and one month’s rent in advance. He claims this was nowhere near enough but for those that were not eligible for public housing, this was their only option.
Mr Mylonas temporarily relocated his family to a $1,800 per month rental home while he paid for the expenses to move his house to another caravan park in Longwarry.
Mr Mylonas takes out his phone to display photos of his new residence. His anger subsides and he turns quiet andsolemn.

“This is where I’m living,” he says as he scrolls through the photos on his iPhone. “A mobile home in the middle of a paddock. Nothing makes sense anymore. Of course it’s going to be more difficult to live there,” he said.

Mr Mylonas’ new home is still getting set up. He finds himself without necessary amenities and he’ll need to continue to rely on bore water and a gas canister. “I’ve taken two weeks off work because I’m fatigued, I’m drained, I have to fix up my house and put it all together again at my cost,” Mr Mylonas said.

His plan was to live at Wantirna when he retired, and pass his home onto his children when he passed away. Now, he says he has nothing to pass onto his three sons; a carpenter, concreter, and spray painter.

Peter Gray, founder of the Wantirna Residents Action Group (WRAG) and 27-year resident said he knows the state government has to work within the law, but he maintains that in these situations, the government should “forget about the law”. The group want compensation for moving those homes, which can cost about $50,000 per building.

Elsewhere, such as in New South Wales, the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (NSW) provides a scheme for compensation in circumstances similar to these at Wantirna.

“We’ve never campaigned about the closure of the park; our campaign is about justice and affordable living,” said Mr Gray. He said that the developer is doing everything legally just not morally.
WRAG wants the law fixed because “now it is allowing the owner to come in and treat us like blades of grass.

“To come in and say ‘Okay, I’ve bought the land, now you can all go by a certain date’ without really looking at the ramifications of what his actions are causing [is the problem],” Mr Gray said.

Of the 200 Wantirna Park Caravan Park residents affected, many were pensioners and elderly.

Some support services were provided through the City of Knox including a hub of agencies set up in the park three days a week by the Department of Human Services, Villa Maria for aged care, EACH mental health, and Uniting Care Harrison.

Funding has been provided, through these services, not directly to the residents.

“We’re asking them to give us something at least the removal costs, these people are too old. They’ve got no money. How can you move a home when you’re getting your pension and expect them to come up with thousands of dollars to remove their house?” Mr Mylonas laments.

He says his future is unknown. His life has changed since the closure of Wantirna but he says he has given up.

“That’s what it makes me feel like doing. I don’t want to work anymore because all I’m doing in killing myself even more,” he said.

He reflects on the media that have covered the issue, and wonders what will come of it. “Very soon we will all be forgotten. The developers win. The government wins. The council wins. The owners win. How about the people here? And we get zilch. Why don’t they look at us as human beings?”

* The Residential Tenancies Act is currently under review by the state government.

Photos by Stamatina Hasiotis.

First published in print and online at Neos Kosmos.

Women migrants most vulnerable but at the “forefront of integration”

Many women who migrate from Greece have been, or are in, abusive relationships and often end up in dismal domestic situations, says a settlement services officer.

Konstantina Kouroutsidou from PRONIA says that in two years of operation, their Newly Arrived program has received more than 57 women seeking assistance due to stressful domestic situations.

Ms Kouroutsidou explains that family violence is not only about physical violence; the majority of women who sought help experienced emotional blackmail, social isolation, verbal abuse, and controlling husbands.

“The women tell their stories through tears, and become distressed about their family situation and their relationships,” Ms Kouroutsidou said.

“They feel helpless and hopeless about their situation, often asking ‘what’s the point? Nothing is going to change anyway’,” she said.

Ms Kouroutsidou described a situation where a woman who was four months pregnant arrived in Melbourne on a temporary visa to escape from her abusive husband in Greece. She was distressed to leave behind her young son but planned to start a new life for herself and her unborn child. With her family’s help she planned to bring her oldest child to Australia.

However she was unable to survive here without family support, financial assistance, or language skills. After her baby was born, she felt the only difficult thing in Greece was her husband, so she returned to the abusive situation she knew.

“So many women, so many sad stories,” Ms Kouroutsidou said. “The women who battle aggression and disrespect towards them also have to cope with the sole responsibilities of looking after the house, the children, a sick mother, or a disabled child, before or after their full or part-time jobs.

“They carry their mental distress with them, and migration exacerbates their stress and magnifies the pressure they feel.”

However, of all the people Ms Kouroutsidou sees, women migrants are frequently the first to seek support or help.

“It is a fact that a large percentage of women are those who are the first to step up to meet migration challenges,” she said.

“They learn the language easier and faster, find work before their husbands, and take a lead role to participate in their community first.

“They are at the forefront of integration. Usually the husbands don’t speak as well as the women do, they don’t show interest in understanding the systems, and they’re frequently one step behind.”

Ms Kouroutsidou said it is the women who lead their family into their new life in Australia, and this is what changes the family dynamics.

“The women have the strength, they are not shy,” she said.

“The women try so hard and most of the time they are a lot more active. In the majority of the couples, the wives decide to seek services from PRONIA and they share the information with their families.”

This article was first published in print and online at Neos Kosmos.

Same Sex Marriage: Australia says ‘yes’ | Neos Kosmos

The results of Australia’s first same sex marriage plebiscite have revealed 61 percent of over 7.8 million Australians voted yes, leaving the future legal status of gay marriage in the hands of parliament.

In a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it is the government’s job now “to get on with it” to legalise same sex marriage and is confident that the matter will be resolved by the end of the year.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten shared his support for Australia’s decision, delivering an emphatic address to crowds in Melbourne today saying that this marriage equality survey shows that “unconditional love is always the last word”.

“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate,” he said.

Member of the Greek and Gay network, John, was in tears as the verdict was delivered Wednesday morning.

He said the last few months have been personally challenging for him, and his crying was also a sign of relief.

“It’s as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders all in a few seconds,” John told Neos Kosmos.

“It’s been a difficult time and I think the fact we’ve now got this, it will start changing views, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

John, who calls himself a late bloomer – having married first and had children – came out at 34. He says the coming out process has been ongoing for 20 years.

“[The postal vote] is not just about marriage. I think that it stretches beyond that, a large proportion of people accept that we have the same rights and that we are part of the community,” he said.

“We’re not an extreme part of the community. We are part of everyday life. And I think there’s that acknowledgement that’s come through today.”

While he has no desire to get married again, he thinks the yes vote is a very important step forward. It has been a very difficult road.

“We do have a lot of rights in Australia as gay and lesbian people, but this final hurdle just cements everything else.”

But same sex marriage has not always been supported by some members of the Greek community.

SBS reported that earlier this year an encyclical by the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, Archbishop Stylianos said that the postal vote “constitutes a sacred and inviolable obligation for all of us, excluding no one, to record ‘NO’ on the relative Postal Survey Form, and to express ‘with one mouth and one heart’ our absolute objection to such an unholy Legislation, which would put at risk the interests of the Family and Marriage for the whole society.”

However Adam Rorris, coordinator of the Australia-Greece solidarity campaign says it is unfortunate that those “right-wing forces” within this country were able to “hoodwink” many ordinary people from different communities into such a divisive position on an issue that concerns human rights.

“The only reason that it happened was because far-right political forces in this country needed an issue to build a political base, to identify people they are now going to pursue so they can pursue their other political objectives,” Mr Rorris said.

Mr Rorris said the results were unsurprising and are a welcome development and confirmation of what they knew was the general sentiment of the Australian population.

“Clearly the majority of Australians think it’s a good thing and a positive change and I would say even a long overdue change,” he said.

“I think this is a change which will affect many same sex people and it’s a positive … It will simply grant human rights, without discrimination, based on a person’s sexuality. That has got to be a good thing in any society.”

The Senate sits this week, and then both houses return on November 27 for a two-week sitting to end the year, in which time MPs will need to agree on how to legalise same sex marriage.

This article appeared in print and online at Neos Kosmos.

Tired and desperate: Father of young drug addict pleads for forced rehab | Mojo

It was only a few months ago when 20-year-old Rhys Thomas was found by police lying face down, unconscious on a swimming pool cover.

He was in possession of ice and had overdosed. Police took him to hospital where he was put on a saline drip for about eight hours, briefly assessed by a psychologist, and soon after sent home.

But Rhys’s father, Simon Thomas, begged for the hospital to keep him.

“I was there by his bedside looking at him, holding his hands,”  Mr Thomas said.

“He’s 58kg, six feet tall and I was just watching, sobbing for eight hours thinking ‘that’s my son and he’s killing himself’.”

Tired and desperate, Mr Thomas is urging the government to consider an inquiry into involuntary rehabilitation for adults.

Rhys and Simon Thomas. Picture: Supplied.

Every day thousands of Australian parents face the reality of having sons and daughters battling drug addictions.

Figures from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey show 43 per cent of Australians aged over 14 had used an illicit drug.

However, drug addicts over the age of 18, in most cases, cannot be admitted to rehabilitation involuntarily.

Addicts must admit themselves, but this doesn’t always happen.

“When they’re on drugs, they don’t see they’ve got a problem,” Mr Thomas said.

The father of three said Rhys’s addiction began when he was 15. He is addicted to most drugs including cough mixture and pain killers, weed, ice, meth, heroin and crack cocaine.

But Mr Thomas said Rhys doesn’t recognise his problem – one that forced him out of school, saw him stealing money from his family for his next fix, and serve a four-month jail sentence.

“The four months that [he] actually spent in jail, that’s the time when I’ve slept the best,” Mr Thomas said.

“I haven’t put my phone on silent because he might be ringing in the middle of the night saying the drug dealers are after him for money and to come and bail him out.”

Mr Thomas has spoken to Nick Xenophon about the possibility of an inquiry on forced rehab, but is unsure how he could help given his recent departure from the Senate.

Experts question whether involuntary rehabilitation is the right thing to do, even in a case of severe addiction.

But Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association policy and media officer Dave Taylor said there would be “real complexities” if one adult could compel another into treatment.

He said there were human rights issues involved, as well as process and other bureaucratic problems.

“ ‘My kid’s got a very serious problem and he’s in need of quickly getting into treatment’ sounds very appealing on the face of it,” Mr Taylor said.

“But when one drills down to the complexities of trying to get that working, it’s a lot more complex.”

However, there are some services that do involve involuntary rehabilitation, including through the Victorian Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act 2010.

The Act states that a person with severe substance dependence may be subject to compulsory treatment for up to 14 days, in so far as they suffer from severe physical damage such as liver or kidney damage.

It has strict eligibility criteria, with a treatment order made by the Magistrates’ Court on the recommendation of a registered medical practitioner.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said evidence suggested involuntary treatment of addiction was less effective in promoting long-term improvements in drug use and in reducing recidivism.

But for Mr Thomas, trying to save his son far outweighs the research around involuntary rehabilitation.

“If I don’t do anything, there’s a chance, a very, very good chance, a high probability, that two things would happen: he’d either go to jail or he’d be dead,” Mr Thomas said.

“Rehab may not necessarily cure him – he may go straight back on the streets. But even if the success rate is 1 per cent, that means there’s one parent out there whose son or daughter is saved.”

First published online at Mojo.

Mental health emergency declared for asylum seekers on the Greek islands | Neos Kosmos

Harrowing reports reveal a “mental health emergency” faced by asylum seekers in camps on the Greek islands and call for the asylum seekers to be relocated to the mainland as refugee camps become severely overcrowded, and conditions continuing to worsen.

The recent report released by Medecins Sans Frontiers reveals that current asylum seekers have experienced violence in Greece, and 80 per cent of new mental health patients treated on Lesvos reported experiencing violence.

Just over a quarter reported experiencing torture, and 19 percent reported experiencing sexual violence, the report found.

Mental health is quickly deteriorating, with more patients needing to be referred to psychiatrists, with an average of six to seven people requiring urgent care linked to attempted suicide, self-harm, psychosis and other emergencies.

Grigoris Kavaranos, a psychologist working in the refugee camps at Lesvos, said the refugees in the camps, his patients, feel frustrated for having been “trapped” on the island for more than a year living in conditions that are “not humane”, exacerbated by the surge in inhabitants.

The camps are built to accommodate around 2,500 people but a recent influx sees the camp holding 5,500 people who live in cramped prison-like surroundings with razor wire, double fences, and security personnel.

Mr Kavaranos, who received his qualifications from Monash University in Melbourne, described the extent of the conditions forcing asylum seekers to line up for hours to collect breakfast, use the bathroom, or even access asylum facilities.

“Even if you don’t have a psychological problem you’re going to develop one just living under these conditions,” Mr Kavaranos said.

He said the psychologists are completely overwhelmed by the number of people needing psychological support just to deal with the conditions of the camps.

“When you force somebody to live in these inhumane conditions, and they have a background of having been tortured or [the threat of being] killed, every single person I see has a harrowing tale to tell,” Mr Kavaranos said.

“I’ve had patients who have been captured, incarcerated and held by ISIS and then after their release or escape they’ve then been incarcerated and tortured by members of the Syrian military as well.”

Concerns deepen as winter approaches. Mr Kavaranos cites three people dying from exposure to the elements last year, on top of other deaths from gas explosions caused by the gas canisters used for cooking and heating: a mother and child were killed, and another child seriously injured.

“If the camp was prepared for the cold weather then there wouldn’t be a problem. Last year the majority of the camp were living in tents so when it started snowing, you can imagine what that meant. People were pitching their tents on top of wooden pellets, and they could see the water running under the tent – and they were the lucky ones,” Mr Kavaranos said.

The poor conditions of the camps exacerbate psychological problems, especially if they are left untreated, as they compound on the already present psychological distress stemming form experiences of torture, violence, and sexual assault in their home countries.

“At some point these refugees are going to be in the community with their problems, basically what we’re doing now is just putting a lid on something that later may develop into something worse. It’s imperative that they receive the treatment that they need,” Mr Kavaranos said.

Recently human rights groups wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Tsipras urging him to “put an end to the ongoing containment policy of trapping asylum seekers on the islands.

The letter also criticised the EU-Turkey statement which the groups say has caused the refugee camps to be places of “indefinite confinement for asylum seekers” alleging that some asylum seekers who arrived on the islands around the start of the statement remained on the islands for 19 months.

However, a recent decision that deemed Turkey as an “unsafe third country” was found to contradict the September ruling by the highest administrative court in Greece, Council of State, which had found that refugees deported to Turkey were not under threat of inhumane treatment.

Concerns surround further overcrowding at processing centres as the decision will add further delays in deportations.

“… it is evident that the Greek authorities cannot meet the basic needs and protect the rights of asylum seekers while they remain on the islands,” they wrote.

“Greece has a responsibility to protect the human rights of women, men, and children arriving on the islands,” they said, adding that for this to be achieved asylum seekers “must be transferred to the mainland to be provided with the necessary services.”

A spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the government must further strengthen the national services on the island and although it has “scaled up” its capacity, urgent action is needed to “ease overcrowding and substantially improve conditions.”

“As you walk through the site you can see pregnant women and refugees in wheelchairs with their families in camping tents. Conditions are made worse by gaps in essential services such as access to medical care,” the spokesperson said.

But as the Greek economy remains crippled with debt the public health system in Greece remains in shambles. The public hospital in Mytilini has one psychiatrist and two psychologists, and limited or no capacity to take on extra patients. A mental health emergency remains as does its indistinct resolution.

This article was published online and in print.

‘No stone left unturned’ for restoration of Evangelismos Church | Neos Kosmos

Restoration of Melbourne’s oldest Greek Church Evangelismos will continue into 2018 as work to clean up debris and restore the extensively damaged ceiling continues, according to members of the committee managing the project.

Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV) president Bill Papastergiadis confirmed the contracts to start the restoration were recently signed, and the first stage of the project will be completed soon.

He said workers are currently on site with a superintendent, and that works are being run “professionally and appropriately”.

GOCM treasurer Marinis Pirpiris said there are some obstacles the team is facing, and stage two of the process is dependent on funding and heritage approvals but he remains optimistic.

“Churches take time to get built … there is lots of energy and passion to complete the restoration earlier,” he said.

A devastating fire in May 2016 rendered some original features unable to be fully restored. The Church of the Holy Annunciation was built by N Longstaff in 1901 to a design by noted architects Inskip and Butler. The design is drawn from French and German Medieval sources and presents a simple brick and terracotta design. It is heritage listed by the state of Victoria.

Mr Papastergiadis said while some features could be restored, others were “damaged beyond capacity to repair” adding that there is a special subcommittee appointed to locate and procure appropriate and equivalent types of antiquities.

“Or [we can] get the iconographers back to recreate [element] as best they can,” Mr Papastergiadis said.

Morea architects’ project leader Constantine Moschoyiannis has designed Greek Orthodox churches for over 30 years and said the church is significant for historical, cultural and heritage perspectives.

Mr Moschoyiannis said the building had not had an upgrade and was a testament to the original builders.

However, with the go ahead for stage one, stage two of the restoration could include a two-storey atrium with new facilities including toilets, a priest’s office and the altar, among other improvements.

Other changes proposed by Mr Moschoyiannis are pending approval.

Preventative measures to avoid future damage will be taken, in line with hertiage Victoria guidelines.

“No stone is being left unturned in terms of ensuring that it meets the high standards in terms of fire prevention,” Mr Papastergiadis said.

Mr Moschoyiannis said parishioners can expect to use the church by early next year.

This article appeared online and in print.

Photo by Neos Kosmos.

The rise of Hellenic doughnuts | Neos Kosmos

Purveyors of Oakleigh’s finest doughnuts, Yani and Nicholas Kabylakis talk to Neos Kosmos about doughnuts that ‘touch people’s hearts’

Working in the hospitality industry was never such a far-fetched idea for the Kabylakis brothers.

Born in Oakleigh to a Greek Australian mother and Greek father who migrated to Australia when he was 13, Yani and Nic Kabylakis had just the right amount of training, creativity and inspiration from their parents when they decided to launch one of Oakleigh’s newest dessert hotspots, the Oakleigh Doughnut Co.

Their parents were involved in the hospitality industry, serving speciality coffee in Melbourne’s CBD to a largely corporate clientele.

Day by day the brothers watched and learned from their parents – who were in the food game for over 30 years – and developed a finely tuned understanding of hospitality.

“My dad always said to me, and I’ll always remember, if you get up to the alarm clock every day and work hard, you will always do well in life,” Yani told Neos Kosmos.

The two brothers, “best friends, and business partners” say they have had a “good working relationship” for many years and coupled with a passion for their heritage, food and hospitality, they felt an idea brewing.

“We are always thinking of different concepts and we always sit down and have a chat over a coffee about different things,” Yani said.

“The idea was born sitting in Nic’s garage one day just having a chat and we thought why don’t we do this? There’s a bit of a doughnut boom at the moment.”

The Oakleigh Doughnut Co was born. But it wasn’t just about your standard doughnuts. They were Hellenic doughnuts, that are touching people’s hearts.

“Being Greek is such an amazing thing, and we’re very proud to be Greek and that’s why we wanted to produce really yummy doughnuts for the Greek community.”

The brothers behind The Oakleigh Doughnut Co, Nic and Yani Kabylakis.

Following from their coffee expertise, the brothers wanted to compliment their drink of choice and to offer something new to the suburb of Oakleigh.

“We wanted to get into the suburb of Oakleigh, we just didn’t know what we wanted to do and we thought we could come up with something really creative and do a little twist on some classic recipe flavours from your childhood and turn them into doughnuts,” he said.

They got down to business, came up with a taste of Greece through their Kabylakis twists, which include the ‘Galakdough’, ‘Bakladough’, and ‘Doloumba’ amongst the usual cacophony of Melburnian flavours ranging from strawberry cheesecake to Oreo.

“We wanted to start off by doing our heritage flavours and recipes and then we are going to branch out to different parts of the world,” Yani said.

Do they see their cultural background as a competitive advantage?

“Look you always need an edge,” he said.”I suppose doughnuts have been done. A lot of people are jumping on the doughnut bandwagon, trying to make a dollar. But we thought if we stick to our game plan and come up with a good concept – even if someone was to copy us – we’d sort of be the people that entered the market first with a concept like this.”

The brothers have been very hands-on from the get go, involved every step of the way.

“Every nail that’s hidden through the walls here, we were here for. We wanted to make sure we were part of everything. We had the vision. The challenge was to make sure everything was true to what we designed.”

But the question is, how did the Greek community take their cultural hybrid desserts? The Greek community has “definitely” accepted their doughnuts.

“We’ve had some elderly women sitting down having coffee, saying how beautiful the coffee is, and having a Galakdough and enjoying it,” said Yani.

“You can’t win absolutely everybody in business, and people may say that they will get the real thing, but the adventurous people and the people young at heart, they always love to try something new and that’s what we’re offering.

“We believe that’s the trend culture in Melbourne. There’s always something new for people to try.”

The Oakleigh Doughnut Co is located at 36 Portman St, Oakleigh, VIC. To see more of their delicious creations, follow them on Instagram@theoakleighdoughnutco

This article was published online on Neos Kosmos and in print.