George Vardas is one of Multicultural NSW’s new Advisory Board members. This is his story.
I was born in Sydney and grew up in Kingsgrove where my parents operated a traditional Greek-style milk bar. I literally grew up working in the milk bar after school and on weekends and I made a mean milkshake (as well consuming quite a few).
I was fortunate to attend Sydney Technical High School and graduated in the Class of 72. I thrived in English under the tutelage of the English Master through years 8 to 12 and I also enjoyed Modern History and debating. I also turned out to be a useful cricketer (for a Greek)!
I really enjoyed essay writing in high school especially in university and I continued, even during my professional legal career, to write articles and reviews for the Kytherian Association of Australia (a fraternal brotherhood of migrants and their descendants from the Greek island of Kythera). Gradually that expanded to writing more generally for local Greek-Australian media as well as the occasional piece in mainstream international media.
I am very passionate about the return or restitution of stolen or looted cultural property and I am very active in the international campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures taken by Lord Elgin and currently in the British Museum.
I am also interested in Greek history and culture, Greek cinema, international politics, architecture, sport, photography, and cultural heritage. I now write on a regular basis for Greek City Times as their Arts and Culture Editor.
My involvement with the Kytherian Association dates back to around 1980, having served as President and committee member over different periods. I continue to maintain a strong connection with the association, which in 2022 celebrated its 100th anniversary.
I have also become involved with the Australian Hellenic Council, a lobby group that addresses matters relevant to Greek Australians. Going to Canberra to lobby against proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination laws some years back was an absolute buzz because I feel we made a telling contribution!
My ongoing involvement through the Australian Parthenon Association in the campaign for the return of the ‘Elgin Marbles’ has also been rewarding over the last 24 years, having spoken at, or attended various conferences around the world, meeting with ministers and bureaucrats in both London and Athens.
Hopefully we can make a difference as well! That probably sums up my ethos: I want to make a difference, and in the process, help influence decision makers.