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Elfa Moraitakis. Elfa Moraitakis.

The grandparent struggle that drives SydWest CEO Elfa Moraitakis

THE memory of her Greek grandparents returning to Greece after years in Australia because they felt they were unsupported, motivates Elfa Moraitakis in her work in the migrant support sector.
And her work has recently expanded, with the amalgamation of Blacktown based SydWest Multicultural Services, of which Ms Moraitakis is CEO, with Participate Australia, which had been struggling through the complexities of the NDIS.
Former CEO of Participate Australia Angela Tsoukos resigned her position but will remain on the board to provide her insights on Participate Australia’s operations.
Ms Moraitakis said the amalgamation would allow SydWest MS to reach out to migrants with disabilities in a way it had not before and to expand into the Inner West and Sydney City.
“The two organisations started by sharing a back office and then we realised that the only way forward would be to amalgamate, making SydWest a stronger service for the CALD (Culturally And Linguistically Diverse) community,” Ms Moraitakis said.
“SydWest will now be able to expand its services into the disability and aged care sector.”
SydWest is one of 12 migrant resource centres in Australia helping migrants from all backgrounds to settle into their new country, directing them to relevant services.
Ms Moraitakis cannot help remembering when migrant support was not as strong in Australia with her grandparents’ struggle.
“My grandparents Angelo and Maria arrived from Crete to Sydney in 1966, a few months before I was born,” Ms Moraitakis said.
“They had arrived at the invitation of my mother who was the first one to come to Australia through a job-seeker program. My mother worked at different factories while my grandfather worked in construction, eventually starting his own company.
“He was always very proud that he contributed to the building of the roads and bridges of Sydney.”
But, despite his success, Angelo and Maria never felt quite at home in Australia.
“They always had fond memories of Australia but never felt an integral part of  the country and did not know how to access services available to migrants,.” Ms Moraitakis said
Ten years after they arrived in Australia, they returned to Crete.
These days, the migrant experience is better thanks to the migrant resource centres and now SydWest goes into the future even stronger.
“The decision by the Boards of Participate Australia and SydWest marks a new chapter in our combined 80 year history,” Ms Moraitakis said.
The expanded SydWest Multicultural Services office will remain in Main St Blacktown.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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