The Pancretan Association of Melbourne – Australia was created from the unification of the three historical organisations from Melbourne. Namely the Cretan League of Victoria established in 1968, Rethimnian Association of Melbourne – Australia “ARKADI” established in 1972 and the Pancretan Brotherhood of Melbourne & Victoria established in 1977.
The aims and objectives of both Associations since their inception almost 40 years ago were to unite under one umbrella the Hellenes of Cretan descent that had arrived as migrants and to assist them in their settlement period as such. Furthermore to promote, educate and enhance the 2nd and subsequent Generations of the Cretan values and ideals and traditions by organising educational, philanthropic, recreational, social and cultural activities.
They can very proudly boast that they have both excelled in all areas that they were established for especially in its philanthropic domain. In 1976 it assisted the Hospital of Rethymnon by donating over 10 surgical beds and all the apparatus that goes with them to the value of fifteen thousand dollars.In 1978 it donated monies toward the Hellenic Navy of the Hellenic Defence Forces to the value of five thousand dollars. Over fifty thousand dollars were raised and sent to the Archdiocese of Crete toward the building of several Churches on the Island of Crete including Timios Stavros on Mount Psiloritis and AgiaTriada in the prefect of Iraklion.
Thousands were donated toward the erection of the Australian Hellenic Memorials in Canberra and in Melbourne respectively as well as the erection of the Statue of Eleftherios Venizelos in East Brunswick and not to mention the Foundation of Eleftherios Venizelos in Chania.
In Australia the Associations philanthropy is a lot bigger. In 1997 thirty two thousand dollars were donated toward the Austin Research Centre and more specifically the Research that was been conducted by Dr. Vaso Apostolopoulou. Monies were also donated toward the establishment of the Greek Nursing Home “FRONDITHA” in Templestowe. The largest of donations however have been given to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal dating back to 2006 with the amount of seventy thousand dollars and in 2007 again raising it to eight thousand dollars and going one better in 2009 were the amount raised for the Good Friday Appeal was ninety thousand dollars making it in excess of a quarter of a million dollars in total.The Association did not stop there. In 2009 it also raised $13,000 toward the “AGAPI” Care Centres who are the organisations that cares for Greek children with disabilities.
In March 1981 a large piece of land was purchased in Cathie’s lane in Wantirna South were the members of the Association donated their services and money of which they temporarily built a function area that would house 300 people. This is where it staged its inaugural events. In October 1983 just over two years later the foundations were laid for the building of the Cretan Village where it included a Reception Center seating just over 1000 people, a Car parking facility for over 200 vehicles, children’s playgrounds, 3 Tennis Courts, a Basketball Court, two Soccer Grounds and a Members Sports Pavilion that seats 150 people. The Associations headquarters are situated at the Cretan Village which includes offices, a Board room, youth area and a Cretan Library/ Archive Centre. Its true to say that the Cretan Village became and remains the focal point for the Cretan activities of the Australian Community.
Annual Charity Balls were hosted for the “MISS CRETE” pageant every year from 1981 to 1984 in Melbourne were young ladies would compete to raise the most money for the Association and therefore take the crown for that particular year. Over the years the ladies that took part were: Koula Antonaki, Sophie Velgakis, Sophie Kalimnakis, Kate Koukouvitakis, Maria Leontakis, Anna Lilikakis, Effie Lygidakis, Christina Metaxakis, Margaret Mefsout, Katerina Nikolioudakis, Effie Nikolakakis, Kelly Paterakis, Harikleia Salahas, Maria Sarris, Aggie Stavroulakis and Hariklia Tzanoudakis.
On a Cultural level the Pancretan Association has been the instigator and leader in committing to invite Cretan Music Groups from Crete in Greece, giving the opportunity to the Migrant population to be entertained to the favourite traditional tunes from their motherland. Since 1972 it has invited over 100 Cretan Musicians some of which are Crete’s biggest names in the industry, including : Kostas Mountakis, Athanasios Skordalos, Antonis Apostolakis, Spiros Sifogiorgakis, Giannis Markogiannakis, Giorgis Papadakis, Manolis Kaklis, Nikos Skevakis, Nikos Alefantinos, Zaharias Melesanakis, Vagelis Tsafantakis, Giorgis Tzagarakis, Giorgis Tamiolakis, Rodamanthos Androulakis, Christos Fournarakis, Manolis Karpouzakis, Giorgos Tamiolakis, Nikos Sopasis, Manolis Larentzakis, Sifis Panagiotakis, Markos Nenedakis, Haralambos Garganourakis, Nikos Kadianos, Mihalis Alefantinos, Tasos Kontogiannis, Giannis Skalidis, Giorgis Hatzidakis, Vasilis Skoulas, Mihalis Fragiadakis, Giorgis Halkiadakis, Giorgis Manolioudis, Alekos Polyhronakis, Nikos Pantetalakis, Dimitris Vakakis, Alekos Hatzakis, Nikos Zoidakis, Giorgis Karagiorgis, Giorgis & Christos Stivaktakis, Galatios Mosxonas, Andreas Meladakis, Nektarios Samolis, Manolis Saloustros, Tasos & Manolis Rerakis, Sifis Tsourdalakis, Kyriakos Stavrianoudakis, Manolis Rasidakis, Kostas Karantinos, Antonis & Giannis Martsakis,Nikos Marentakis, Mihalis Bakatsakis, Loukas Mandakakis, Nikos Rinakakis, Gianns Mihelioudakis, Stefanos Messaritakis, Nikos Giatromanolakis, Giorgis Xylouris, Giannis Xylouris, Antonis Xylouris, Alexandros Papadakis, Giorgis Nistikakis, Manolis Hamogiorgakis, Harris & Giorgos Pantermakis, Nikos Manioudakis, Kostas Alexakis, Mihalis Tzouganakis, Giorgos & Nikos Stratakis, Elias Horeftakis, Nikos Vroulakis & Vasilis Nikoloudakis etc.
Furthermore its rich cultural history has a lot more to showcase. Hundreds of children have grown up been taught the Traditional Dances from Crete and general Cretan Traditions. The Association has three Dance Group levels . The Junior, the intermediate and Senior Levels. The Junior Levels are been directed by Ms. Mary Vasilakis and Ms Effie Psarakis and the Intermediate Levels also by Ms. Mary Vasilakis, Ms. Effie Psarakis and Mr Yianni Rerakis the Senior Levels by Mr. Kostas Alygizakis. Major highlights of the Pancretan Dance Group over the years include the 1stprize it was awarded in the 1984 at the Cretan Dance Competition hosted by the Cretan Federation of Australian in Canberra, and also in 1986 it received the 3rd Prize in the Hellenic Dance Competition hosted at Dallas Brooks Hall. The Junior Dance Groups were also awarded the second prize at the AHEPA Dance Competitions in 1994. Other major highlights include its tour of Crete in Greece in August 2003 were it was invited by the Prefects of Rethymnon, Chania and Iraklion. The Dance Teachers that have come through the ranks are namely: Stelios Klapsinakis, Dimitris Sarris, Anna Tsourdalaki, Irene Tsourdalaki, Marios Volitakis, Freda Daskalomarkakis, Allister & Mary Sarris, Andrew Klapsinakis, Theo Paterakis, Anna Frantzeskakis, Stella Votzourakis, Nikos & Kate Koukouvitakis, Giorgos Aggelakis, Antonis Tsourdalakis, Dimitria Sirilas, Niki Ballas, Christina Kotsifakis, Manolis Binakis, Kostas Alygizakis, Mary Vasilakis and Harry Binakis.
It would be remiss not to mention that in November 2006 the Association established the first official Cretan Music School were students would learn the Lyra, the Lute, the guitar, the mandolin etc. The first music teacher was the Cretan Lyrist Giannis Pollakis followed by Giorgos Triantafillidis and currently Giannis Skoulas.
Another Cultural area that the Association has thrived in is its Theatrical group. The Pancretan Theatrical Group has over the years put on the following theatrical performances: Kalinixta Margarita, the Battle of Crete, Anthipolohagos Zisis and many others. At the same time it has participated in other Theatrical performances that have a Cretan Story like Patouhas, Erotokritos, Zorbas as well as the Traditional Cretan Wedding in 1982.
On a sporting front one would say that the Association is probably one of, if not the leader from all the other Hellenic organisations, simply because it had two soccer grounds, one basketball court and has 3 tennis courts. Its soccer team called “KPHTH” was established in 1986 to give the opportunity to kids from the area and especially young members of the Association the opportunity to be able to showcase their talent. That interest grew and grew were over the rich 16 year history the Pancretan Soccer Team has won numerous State and Provisional League Championships. Its highlight would say was the highest level it reached which was A’ Grade State League, one level away from the difficult Victorian Premier League. Soccer however wasn’t the only forefront, because the Association over the years produced many great Tennis players who went on to become professionals in the sport. At the moment the Pancretan Tennis Club is registering new members and has appointed two full time choices.
Over the years the Pancretan Association had the initiative in the production of two newspaper publications namely the Kritikoi Antilaloi and the Foni tou Rethymnou ,several Annual Magazines and in 2008 it published a book titled “ The Cretans of Oceania from the 19th Century “ which is the first of its kind in the entire Oceanic Region. The Author is one of the co – founders Mr. Socrates Tsourdalakis.
The Associations success can be very widely attributed to the ongoing success of its young members. The Pancretan Youth Club has organised hundred’s of social, cultural, educational, sporting and fund raising events over the years since its inception. It should be noted amongst the many events the ones that stand out are the four trips to Crete it has organised in 1984, 1985, 1986 and in 2008. The current Pancretan Youth Club President is Ms. Paula Sagiadellis.
Since 1972 there have been 16 presidents that have served the Pancretan Association over the 40 years that have lapsed. Namely they are: Georgios Tsourdalakis, Dimitris Gryllakis, Giorgis Pyrovolakis, Giorgis Paterakis, Nikos Andrigiannakis, Giorgos Kozonakis, Manolis Leontakis, Andreas Sarimanolis, Evangelos Leontakis, Pantelis Kalimnakis, Dimitris Papadimitrakis, Nikos Koukouvitakis, Manolis Kastrinakis, Antonis Tsourdalakis and the current President Ioannis Nikolakakis .
It would be wrong if we did not mention, that part of the Pancretan Family, is the very committed Women’s Auxiliary that is always the backbone of the Association that assists the Executive Committees with fundraising Activities. The current President of the Women’s Auxiliary is Mrs. Zina Axarlis.
The Pancretan Associations name is synonymous and well known around the world through its networking over the years but more so its affiliation to the National body the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand and its affiliation to the International peak body the World Council of Cretans. Furthermore with technology in its grasp it has a very busy and successful website www.pancretan.com.au
The Pancretan Membership at this stage is quite strong boasting just over 700 paid up members and is growing rapidly since the local Australian Community can see the value in joining the Association.