How It All Began
In June 1953, the cries of newspaper street vendors, “latest news, read all about “it, broke the silence of the quiet streets of Kalamata, Messinia changing the course of its modern history. The front page of all three local newspapers “ The Simea”(the flag) , The Tharos ( the courage) and Ta Nea ( the news) ran the same ground breaking story about Australia having opened its doors to Greek Immigrants and that a sub-committee of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) or DEME as it was know in Greece was to visit Kalamata for the purpose of selecting migrants for Australia.
The response from the locals was enormous, with people of all ages and walks of life (there were conditions as to who could apply) queueing up at the philanthropic “Institute of the People” (Laiki Scholi).
On the 25th pf July 1953, 300 Greek citizens boarded the Scandinavian vessel “ Skaubryn carrying more1000 migrants and sailed from Piraeus to Australia, hoping for a better future but at the same time fearful of facing the unknown. Four Messinian families were on board : the Panagiotis Gardiakos, Spyros Christopoulos, Elias Anargyros and one more.
The Skaubryn was followed by many other ships carrying thousands of Greek migrants to Australia some of whom settled in Adelaide. These include men, women and children and at first many single men. The latter soon brought their prospective brides, many of whom came from Messina. The Greek migrants who arrived in Australia during the 1950’s found fellow Greeks “the Palaioi (old) who had settled in Australia before World War II, most of whom however originated from the Greek islands.
At that time, there were very few Greek organisations in Adelaide, and as stated in an article in the “Messiniaka Nea” in 1982, “after the first confusion and trauma of separation ,the time had come for a review of lifestyle for some luxury, for simple entertainments, for community activity and inter-community support”.
With these thoughts in mind, three friends in Adelaide decided to act and established the Messinian Brotherhood of SA, which was destined to become the vehicle for the social and cultural activities of all Messinians.
The Birth of the Organisation
At the time, it is very likely that there were many Messinians in Adelaide, thinking along the same lines and even planning the establishment of a Messinian Organisation but no steps had actually been taken until September 1959.
Vassilis Plemenos from Kalamata approached his good friend Angelos Bouzalas from Klisoura, Pylias, with the idea of forming a Messinian Organisation in Adelaide, but Angelos was opposed to the idea. More discussions took place with George Mantis from Neromylos, Pylias, who took a stand in favour of the idea.
It took quite some time before Angelos Bouzalas would come around but after repeated discussions with George and Vassilis, Angelos finally agreed to the establishment of a Messinian Organisation for South Australia.
A plan was put into place by Angelos, using with a borrowed typewriter to make the first announcment, calling for all Messinians of Adelaide to attend a meeting. Copies were made using a duplicating machine and were distributed outside the Greek churches and Greek clubs. A copy of this invitation dated the 24th of September 1959 is archived in the Association’s records.
The First Organisation and Constitution
On the 4th of October 1959 the classroom at the Olympic Hall, on Franklin Street was packed to capacity with Messinians. The late Mr. Nicholas Tzavaras, as one of the elders was chosen to chair the meeting which rapidly approved and authorised the establishment of the Messinian Brotherhood of South Australia.
A Temporary Constitutional Committee comprised of five members was elected to prepare a constitution and to submit it for approval to a new General Meeting
The five member of the Temporary Constitutional Committee were, Aristomenis Angelopoulos, John D Angelopoulos, Peter G. Costopoulos, Angelos Bouzalas and Peter Plemenos.
The following is an excerpt from the Minutes of the Messinian Brotherhood of SA.
“The Constitution was approved and the first Returning Officers/Auditors Committee was elected to organise the first elections which were held on the 15th of November 1959.
The members of the first Returning Officers/Audit Committee were, Peter Andeopoulos, Con Vassos, George Kontopoulos, George Mantis and Dimitris Sardelis.
The First Executive Committee
The members of the first Executive Committee in 1959 were Eugenios Koutsikas (President), Aristomenis Angelopoulos (Vice President), Angelos Bouzalas (Secretary), Peter Plemenos (Treasurer), Spyros Christopoulos, Peter.G. Kostopoulos & Vasilis Vassilopoulos. Vasilis Vassilopoulos resigned and was replaced by the first runner up, Vasilis Plemenos, third runner up, John Andrianopoulos, and finally fourth runner up John D Angelopoulos.