Rising to the Challenge events held in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth


September 13, 2019

The challenges of building a more prosperous and compassionate Greece were the central theme of The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s successful RISING TO THE CHALLENGE – Greece at the Crossroads of Social Change events held across Australia this week.

The events in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, brought together key business and community leaders to hear a dynamic line-up of speakers discussing the social impact of the decade-long economic crisis in Greece, through the lens of Greek NGOs working on the ground.

Global business leader Andrew N Liveris AO, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Hellenic Initiative, captivated audiences in Sydney and Melbourne with his insights into the global politics, the changing  economic and social landscape in Greece and his vision for the country’s revitalisation, with the support of the diaspora.

The highlight of the Melbourne and Sydney events was a wide-ranging panel discussion with Mr Liveris and two leaders of The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s partner charities,  Maria Karra, Co-Founder of Emfasis Foundation and Lena Papalexopoulou  Vice-President of Desmos Foundation.

During the engaging one-hour conversation, masterfully moderated by John Mangos, the speakers provided unique and frank insights into Greece today and efforts to bring about fundamental change through social change, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Andrew N Liveris in Melbourne Photo: Peter Kakalias

The Hellenic Initiative Australia President, Nicholas G Pappas said the events provided an opportunity meet two inspirational leaders who are helping to changing the social fabric of Greece and learn about the important work being done by The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s charity partners in Greece.

“We are honoured to have had the opportunity to hear from these outstanding women, whose compassion and devotion to their charitable endeavours gives us hope that Greece’s future is indeed bright.

“We thank them for fortifying our vision for Greece and making us believe that our vision is achievable and hopeful that it is slowly coming within our collective grasp,” Mr Pappas said.

The event series kicked off in Sydney on 9 September with a dinner at Beta, supported by Hellenic Club Sydney. The Melbourne event on 10 September was hosted at the new Docklands headquarters of ANZ, THI Australia’s National Event Partner.

The series concluded in Perth on Thursday 12 September at Crown Towers, where Ms Karra and Ms Papalexopoulou joined Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, Director of the Telethon Kids Institute, in a far-reaching discussion on the key issues and challenges for the not-for-profit sector globally.

John Mangos, Lena Papalexopoulou, Maria Karra, Andrew N Liveris and Nicholas Pappas at at Beta Bar Sydney. Photo: Nick Bourdaniotis

During their time in Australia, Ms Karra and Ms Papalexopoulou also took the opportunity to meet with local charities and organisations to gain an understanding of the not-profit sector in Australia and foster connections for international knowledge sharing.

“Desmos and Emfasis are representative of the new-generation charities that have emerged in response to the crisis and The Hellenic Initiative Australia is proud to be supporting their efforts to assist people in need and make a lasting impact on Greek society,” Mr Pappas said.

“For every story of hope and solidarity, however, there are still another 10 that speak loudly of pain, despair and anguish, so there is still a great need for our support.”

Desmos Foundation is one of Greece’s most dynamic and impactful giving hubs, supporting all types charitable organisations that help people in need and vulnerable groups throughout Greece. Its initiatives include programs focusing on social welfare, healthcare, youth empowerment, education and employment and emergency response and recovery.

Emfasis Foundation supports the homeless, rough sleepers and vulnerable and socially excluded groups in Athens and Piraeus. Their pioneering social street work programs, led by a team of sociologists, psychologists and trained volunteers, provide immediate relief and ongoing support.

THI Australia currently supports the Emfasis Mobile Support Unit and Desmos’ I Care & Act program.

Find more information about the series and our speakers on the events page.