The face of Australia’s Greek community is rapidly changing because of the economic crisis crippling Greece.
Immigration statistics show around 280 expatriates – mostly families and skilled migrants – have come back to Australia over the past year but the total number of Greek citizens in Australia is expected to be higher, with many more here on holidays.
The Honorary Consul for Greece in the Northern Territory, John Anictomatis, says there has been a huge influx of new Greeks in Darwin.
“For the last six months, the figures show that on average about 10 new arrivals a week are coming back to Darwin, whether it’s family groups or people coming back on their own before they bring their families back to Australia,” he said.
Drossos Tavlarios, 27, came to Darwin from his home on a Greek island after being unable to get work.
He says he is one of the lucky ones.
“Everything is okay, very nice in Darwin,” he said.
Mr Anictomatis says he gets desperate calls from Greece every week.
“They’re mainly desperate about employment, their children’s future,” he said.
The influx to the Top End has prompted Territory Government minister Kon Vatskalis to call on the Federal Government to consider special working visas for Greeks who have been affected by the economic crisis.
Mr Vatskalis says the Territory is set to face a major skills shortage when a major gas project starts.
He says it makes sense to bring Greeks over on working visas to help fill the gap.
“We’re talking about an exodus of people from the industry now because they are going to get well-paid jobs with Inpex,” he said.
“How are we going to replace these people? We can’t replace them out of nothing.”
Meanwhile, the British government is drawing up emergency immigration controls to combat any surge in economic migrants from Greece and other European Union countries if the euro collapses.
Interior minister Theresa May has told a UK newspaper that it is right for Britain to do some contingency planning, but did not say what steps could be applied.
An increasing perception that Greece or other debt-laden countries might have to leave the eurozone has brought concerns that millions could lose their jobs and go abroad in search of work.