I would first like to salute the traditional custodians of the land on which the Fairfield Amphitheater stands, the Wurundjeri people of the mighty Cullen Nation. I would like to pay homage to their laws and traditions, and to pay homage to the elders of the present and the emerging. I would also like to acknowledge that this land has been stolen and has never been ceded. It has always been and always will be indigenous land.
As a proud member of Melbourne’s Victorian Australian Greek community, I want to recognize the joint struggle and success of Indigenous Australians and migrants in Australia to achieve recognition of citizenship, equality and fairness. Over 200 years of wrongs to right.
I support the protection of this cultural place, a monument built in 1983 to help celebrate diversity, multiculturalism, bilingualism and difference. It first hosted the Open Theater of Greek Classics for the 1984/85 Epidaurus Festival featuring plays in Greek and English. Since then, it has hosted a multitude of festivals, events and performances by communities of many faiths, regions, origins and identities. Earlier this year, I remember coming here to attend a reading of Homer’s ancient poem “The Iliad”. Such a big and perfect setting.
READ MORE: Campaign to protect the ancient Greek-inspired amphitheater of Fairfield
The space that has been allocated for the proposed redevelopment is already listed in the Cultural Heritage Register and Information System as a Cultural Heritage Sensitive Area by Aboriginal Victoria in their Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register and Information System . Respecting the site in the future would mean more development or disruption to the site.
The Amphitheater is Victoria’s only Ancient Greek model amphitheater and Victoria’s only professional open-air public theater. A space that will be cherished especially in these times of pandemic outdoors as the art scene is resuscitating.
We ask Heritage Victoria to reconsider the inclusion of the Fairfield Amphitheater, River Pavilion and State Level Heritage Protection (and Continuing) Kiosk on the Victorian Heritage Register. An important cultural contribution of migrants in Australia. The most recent census still shows that Australia’s largest Greek population is in the town of Yarra. A vibrant, prosperous and active Greek and migrant community. We oppose any work that threatens the viability of the theater and disrupts the territory of the local indigenous indigenous community. Registration with Heritage Victoria will protect it.
Hope is still there – It is not yet too late as a second hearing result on this decision is expected in January 2022. We hope that today is playing its part in bringing to light new information and highlighting the previous redevelopment decision.
Please play your part – write to MPs, Councilors, Government and Heritage Victoria and remember sign the online petition.
Vasso Zangalis is a member of the board of directors of the Greek Orthodox community of Melbourne and Victoria.