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 at ECCQ House, West End, Brisbane

Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland Re-naming of ECCQ House in Honour of Mr Nick Xynias, BEM, AO

Deputy Premier representing the Premier, Senator Fierravanti-Wells representing the Prime Minister, and other distinguished guests. We have all been drawn to this place today by the wonderful legacy of Nick Xynias AO, BEM, and by the strong desire of the Queensland community to celebrate and commemorate the man and his legacy.

Nick’s eighty-two years straddled several worlds.

As a child and a young man he was part of a Greek community, but a Greek community living in Egypt, in a small town half-way along the Suez Canal.

In his early twenties he took the bold step of migrating to Australia ending up, to our good fortune, in Brisbane.

The energetic Nick Xynias arrived in his new country with very little. He understood the scale of the challenges that all new arrivals faced. Nick devoted almost half a century to championing their cause in our State and more broadly in Australia.

Nick realised, intuitively, that the benefits of migration flowed both ways.  Newcomers to Australia could take advantage of all that Australia had to offer. But these newcomers also brought with them diverse cultural backgrounds that enriched Australian society then and continues to do so now.

Just as importantly, Nick and other like-minded individuals realised that there needed to be organisation and structure behind their efforts – an effective base from which to promote multiculturalism, and lobby for support and resources. 

Nick was a leading figure in the establishment in 1976 of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland in 1976, which was founded to achieve those goals. Almost forty years later, it is still going strong. 

The reach of Nick’s contribution to Queensland is broad and deep. He brought his energy and experience in multiculturalism to a diverse range of causes, organisations and advisory bodies. 

And let us not forget that for most of this time Nick was also making a living, and raising a family with Pat!

Nick’s life brings to mind a quote that many of you may know. Its essence is this: “A society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never enjoy.”

Nick was a young man, not an old man, when he started his voluntary work, but the quote is otherwise particularly appropriate. 

First, it is thought to be a Greek saying.  Second, it neatly describes Nick’s achievements in creating institutions and championing attitudes that will benefit future generations of Queenslanders.  They will be able, as it were, to enjoy the shade of trees that Nick planted.  

ECCQ’s decision to re-name this building “Nick Xynias House” is both apt and generous.  It creates a permanent reminder in bricks and mortar of Nick’s life and pioneering work in championing multiculturalism as a vital element adding to the strength of Queensland communities. 

As Governor of a culturally diverse State where a fifth of Queenslanders are overseas-born, I thank and congratulate the Council on re-naming ECCQ House after Nick Xynias.

I thank Nick’s extended family most sincerely for sharing him with us over the decades. And I pay heartfelt tribute, on behalf of all Queenslanders, to Nick’s marvellous life and achievements. Thank you.