COMMUNITY RALLIES BEHIND FAMILIES
Townsville residents in support
THE Townsville Greek community is rallying around their home country relatives, offering emotional and financial support as they potentially look to flee Greece’s catastrophic debt crisis.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a referendum for Sunday on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for vital bailout funds and remaining in the European Union.
Greece has already endured five years of recession, unemployment has reached more than 25 per cent this year and pensions and benefits have been roughly halved between 2010 and 2014.
Fitness trainer Tony Tsompanellis recently returned from a Greek holiday and after travelling there more than 20 times said he had never seen so much despair among his family.
“The mood was the most pessimistic I have ever, ever encountered because all they can do is sit and watch TV from morning to night, which is always depressing,” Mr Tsompanellis said.
“My elderly uncles would tell me stories of lining up at 2am to get their pensions before waiting five hours at the bank – and this is when
Greece had money. Everybody is hanging on to see what the result of the referendum is but they are all looking for a way to get their kids out of the country.”
Mr Tsompanellis said some of his relatives had asked him for financial help. “My family has worked all their lives and everybody that I am aware of is very concerned,” he said.
“It’s such a happy place and people are genuinely so giving, so just to see just about everybody so depressed and with no hope is a tragic thing.
“Greece was under slavery for 400 years and managed to get independence, but this is one situation where they will have to dig deep.”
Pol Kiassos said he and his family in Townsville were considering returning to Greece to offer support to relatives hit hard by the austerity measures.
“They are all concerned about what is going to happen after the no or yes vote of the referendum,” he said.
“I know a lot of people and relatives who don’t have any jobs or they have lost their jobs.
“They are very frustrated about all the pressure from the European Union.”
was the most pessimistic I
have ever seen
CRISIS LOOMING: Protesters gather in Athens and ( inset left) Tony Tsompanellis on a recent trip to Greece to visit family members.