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Greeks look to Australia for salvation

first_imgA reflection of the dire economic situation in Greece, over 700 Greek skilled workers wanting to migrate to Australia packed into the Hilton Hotel in Athens last weekend to participate in the Skills Australia Needs expo and information sessions provided by the Australian Industrial Systems Institute (AISI). The Skills Australia Needs expo was organised by the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Following the two-day event, a spokesperson for DIAC told Neos Kosmos that 773 individuals were invited and attended the Skills Australia Needs sessions, and that the event was over-subscribed. The spokesperson did not have information on how many online registrations expressing an interest in attending had been received. Neos Kosmos understands that some 10,000 people may have expressed an interest in attending the expo. “All the feedback seems to be it went pretty well,” said the DIAC spokesperson. “Five information sessions were held over the two days and around 150 skilled workers attended each session. The overall attendance was 773 skilled workers.” DIAC confirmed that four exhibitors took part in the Athens event: the South Australian government, the Victorian government, WA Health and Fronditha Aged Care. Fronditha Care was the only private organisation to attend. Mike Zafiropoulos, president of Fronditha Care told Neos Kosmos that his “understanding is [DIAC] extended invitations to other employers and only Fronditha accepted”. Zafiropoulos said he felt it was important for Fronditha Care to be present at the expo because the organisation found it difficult to recruit nurses with a Greek background in Australia. “We got quite a few people that would be potentially appropriate employees,” said Zafiropoulos, “so we will be looking at the applications in the next few days and will be taking the appropriate steps to see if we can bring the best to join Fronditha.” As a Greek migrant, and the only exhibitor with a Greek background, Zafiropoulos was able to discuss aspects of the Greek community in Australia with those attending. He said many were asking about bilingual schools, orthodox churches, newspapers, and community groups. AISI ran its own information seminars, independent of the DIAC expo last weekend. The institute, represented by managing director and CEO Roula Tsiolas, and marketing and business development officer Pana Tsiolas, along with migration experts, gave information to potential migrants on study courses and migration information. Tsiolas told Neos Kosmos that AISI’s seminars “were most successful. Not only by way of enrolments and future enrolment prospects for AISI, but more so because we provided the people of Greece with a quality service of information, as we were able to answer all their queries concretely, factually, and as related to their individual needs”. However, Tsiolas was quick to point out that nothing could have prepared the AISI team for the stories they heard while in Athens regarding the plight of potential migrants. Mike Zafiropoulos echoed this sentiment. “The experience was quite overwhelming,” he said. “I am a migrant who came to Australia at the age of 18 so the migration experience is still very fresh in my mind. “When I see these highly educated people, with PhDs, MBAs and many of their degrees were obtained overseas like London and New York – people who have studied at very good universities, very qualified people – you can imagine were quite frustrated with the situation. They had quite personal questions, like what will happen to their family, will my spouse be able to migrate, will my child be able to go to kindergarten?” “One could see the desperation on their faces… There was anxiety and stress and desperation in the way they were expressing their desire to come to Australia.” DIAC’s spokesperson told Neos Kosmos that given the over-subscribed nature of the expo, “the department has undertaken to ensure all those who applied will have appropriate information on migration pathways to Australia and what is required”. Fronditha’s president has said he will continue to stay in touch with the Australian embassy and DIAC to ensure those who were unable to attend the sessions will receive appropriate information. For its efforts, AISI was congratulated by the Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dimitrios Dollis, who invited AISI to continue to visit Athens to help the information flow regarding studying in Australia, education pathways and student visas to continue. Two days before the Athens sessions, DIAC ran similar sessions in Berlin, where only 93 potential skilled migrants attended an identical expo. The exhibitors in Germany were the same as in Athens, but also included the Western Australia government and the Australian recruitment firm Navitas. It remains to be seen exactly how many of those who attended the Athens expo will now apply to migrate to Australia. In recent years the number of Greek migrants to Australia has been consistently low. According to DIAC, just over 100 Greek nationals migrated to Australia between July 2010 and June 2011. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more