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There are those individuals who take the decision to leave their homeland to travel overseas to a new land, as yet unknown to them. Although it may be very strange at first, and even daunting, they settle down, adapt themselves to the unfamiliar life and end up with the rewarding career that lay waiting for them after their arrival.
Alfred George Kouris, who was born in Greece on 10 July 1927, was destined to become one of those individuals. As a young man he attended the University of Political Science in Athens, at which he completed a three-year course of study in 1952. It was not long, however, before he took the decision to leave Greece for a life on the other side of the world. 14 March 1956 is a date firmly imprinted in his memory as the day when, after a long sea journey, he stepped off the boat onto Australian soil. Now, some forty-five years later, he can look back on a successful career as a businessman, journalist and politician. In addition, he was until recently the publisher and editor of "The Torch Pirsos".
The author of numerous articles, Mr Kouris is perhaps best known for his book "Migrant! The blessing...and misfortune...of loving two courntries", published in 1998. It is a 448-page memoir complete with 200 pictures, in which he relates the story of his life in Australia, whith its joys and sorrows, the good and the bad. In empathy with other migrants and through his own experience, he is well-placed to understand the problems they face in integrating into the new society, knowing little about it and even lessabout the language. In particular, he draws attention to an emotive question that migrants ask themselves as they grow older, the question as to where they should spend their last days. Should they return to the original homeland and finally join their ancestors in their graves, or should they remain in their adoptive country, with their children and grandchildren nearby? It is a hard choice they have to make.
The latest campaign of Alfred Kouris is the recognition of the historic Battle of Crete in the second World War to be upgraded as a National Day for Hellenes and a day of remembrance worldwide for all those who lost their lives for Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
Australia has given much to Alfred Kouris, but it has also received benefits from him. He has contributed to changing some of its outdated rules and customs, for example, by instigating sophisticated, liberalised drinking laws. He also led the retailer revolution that resulted in the introduction of late nigtht shopping throughout Australia in 1970. Not only did this received full news coverage at the time,but in addition was recently featured in a series on "Famous Front Pages of the 20th Century", run by the Herald-Sun Newspaper of Melbourne.
Mr. Kouris has great respect and admiration for the millions of "Diaspora", or scattered, Greeks who have settled abroad, as well as for the numerous migrants from other ethnic groups. Now resident in the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere, such people have played an important part in the developmnet and growth of those countries. It is a cherished wish of his for migrants to be recognised as world class citizens and for a Migrants' Day to be proclaimed as a public holiday worldwide.