Australian-born Ellie Doulgeris says relatives are planning to move here. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Herald Sun
MELBOURNE is set for a new wave of Greek migrants as the nation’s dismal economy drives away workers in search of jobs.
Fed up with unemployment above 17 per cent, hundreds of aspiring migrants have bombarded local Greek organisations looking for ways to call Melbourne home.
Department of Immigration figures show Australia is on track to record a 65 per cent increase in Greek migrants this financial year, after an influx in the last six months of 2011 as Europe’s economic woes deepened.
And Melbourne – which has more Greek-speaking people than any city outside Athens and Thessaloniki – will take the lion’s share, says Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne president Bill Papastergiadis.
He said the organisation had been swamped with hundreds of inquiries a month from Greeks wanting migration advice.
“That really took effect once the economic situation deteriorated in Greece,” Mr Papastergiadis said.
The number of Greeks visiting Australia on short-term visas also increased, with nearly 4000 arriving last year, up 21 per cent on 2009.
Melbourne already is home to more than 300,000 Greeks, with many arriving in the 1950s and 1960s when government migration schemes sought Greeks and Italians.
Lazarus Karasavvidis said his international recruitment and training firm Skillup Australia had witnessed a tenfold increase in the number of Greek people wanting work in Melbourne in the last six months of 2011.
“The vast majority of them are young, urban professionals. They’re well qualified, they’re looking for a new home,” Mr Karasavvidis said.
Melbourne’s Ellie Doulgeris, 20, said Greek relatives planned to migrate.
“Some are willing to stick it through, but things aren’t great,” Ms Doulgeris said.