He visualises the future of the Greek community
Born in 1946 in Florina, he finished high school in Greece and then immigrated to Australia where he studied Information Technology. He worked hard, taking leading positions in the railways of Victoria, as director of the Federal Department of Immigration and CEO of Special Broadcasting Service in Victoria and he served the homogeny as member of homogeny agencies and organizations.
Not long ago, he was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia, for his 40 years of offering. He is Chairman of the Board the «Care» and of the Channel 31 and a member of the Board of Charity of the City of Melbourne and a member of the Advisory Committee on Multiculturalism and the Arts of state government.
In an interview at the site http://www.neoskosmos.com/, Sakis Zafiropoulos chooses to talk more about the Greek community and less about himself. He characterizes as «bug» the fact that he dealt with the common from the first moment he set his foot in Australia. A “bug” which «was planted in me at my high school years when I won a scholarship as a student yet, to organize a social club in a village in Greece. I went then to a village and came into contact with the locals and I organized an association of antiques and started to collect coins and other findings that the villagers had. This initiative, I think, put in me this “bug”. And I liked it. Then when I came to Australia, I became involved in the football team «Alexander» as a secretary. I like to organize, and put things in order.
He knows well by now how the system works. He considers that in Australian institutions things are in order, there is greater understanding, tolerance and cooperation than in Greek Community. «We in the Community, for instance, can lose months and years, dealing with whom we will elect, what party we will emerge, how many members we will get and so on and so on. The Australian agencies – and I mean worthy organizations – focusing on the right choice and not consumed in procedural delays «he noted that while in another part of the interview said:» We Greeks are wary bogged down the process while the non-Greek organizations slide in the strategy. I do not want to blame the community organizations, I m talking about my own experience, things might have changed nowadays. I remember when I was in «Alexander» may be talking about five hours on one topic, then go from one to another and finally after five hours meeting, we didn’t have concluded to anything. Moreover the research is missing from the community organizations. We Greeks consider research as… “I know what it takes… Do you agree? Let’s do it”. Without scientific research we can not go ahead. All Australian institutions will do their research before doing something. Then there is what we call lack of consultative processes. We never ask our people what they want from an agency. We take decisions without making effective assessment of needs.”
Regarding his thoughts on the future of the Greek community, Sakis Zafiropoulos notes, inter alia: «We have, primarily, to understand that we must deal with the future. Until now we either dealt with our current days or with the past. As a community we have not given proper weight to the future. The past should teach us and future should be our priority. I am not talking about the community organizations but for the entire community», while in another part he states:» We miss the look and the serious look at what the other communities do. The way in which Jews do the lobby is illustrative. They attend together to government. Do we? No, we do not. There should be created a different body, a single one and representative body- one and effective. Now, as we are, nobody takes us seriously. SAE goes and says it represents the Greek, then the church goes and claims the same thing, then the Communities go and say the same. Who will take us seriously? Politicians laugh behind our backs.»
Sakis Zafiropoulos finally notes in an interview in http://www.neoskosmos.com/ that he would like to be a research for analyzing the problems of the community and assessing the future needs. This is the “A” effort and he speaks for that research on all issues, such as language, social services, culture. He considers the combination of organizations as impractical but the creation of partnerships between some agencies seems to be a feasible and worthy goal.