LUNCHEON - 17TH JANUARY 2014
Speaker - Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, CEO and Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Chairperson: Ken Badenoch
Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM is the CEO and Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Kon’s personal experience of racism and witnessing the exploitation of his parents in factories planted the seeds for his passion for human rights. Kon went on to become a lawyer, social worker and teacher. His work as CEO has been recognized with being a Finalist for Australian of the Year (Victoria) in 2007, invited to participate in the 2020 Summit in 2008, voted one of Australia’s 20 Unsung Heroes as part of the launch in 2008 of the new Portrait Gallery in Canberra and voted as one of Melbourne 100 most influential people in The Age Melbourne Magazine. Most recently, Kon was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2010 and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2011.
A synopsis of the speaker's presentation:
kon spoke with emotion and clarity of the many issues confronting Asylum seekers arriving in Australia. Whilst Kon stated on more than one occasion that his message was not political nothing could have been further from the truth.
Political it certainly was with many examples of errant treatment of refugees by authorities being raised. With emotionally charged addresses of this nature focussing on the failure of mankind to treat the weak and needy with compassion it was also equally as compelling to understand the amount of ‘blood money’ changing hands in transit countries such as Indonesia encouraging those with the ability to trust their luck on the high seas.
Politicians on both side of the political spectrum seem to have difficulty in looking after those who have arrived on our shores safely and those who are attempting to do so. Kon’s address raised as many examples of care and treatment, or observed lack of, as there are issues. Whilst Kon’s charismatic delivery captured the attention of all present, the message was laced with stories of brutality and appalling treatment of those held in detention that if communities in Melbourne were experiencing similar practices the authorities from police to Human Services would be working overtime to curb the practices.
It was a very emotional address leaving as many questions unanswered as answered. Kon left the meeting with a broad smile on his face having received a cheque from President Keith for $10,000 bringing the amount donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre from our club in the past 12 months to $25,000. A princely sum indeed.