Sophia Siachos, a young Greek lawyer of Trikala and Pontian origins, has been working as an Aide to the Governor of Victoria since March 2017. A few days ago we had the chance to meet and learn more about her.
What are your responsibilities as an Aide to the Governor?
Together with the other two aides, I am responsible for delivering the Governor’s official program. The role is varied and includes research, writing, social media, attending the Governor at official engagements, managing functions at Government House as well as spending a great deal of time working with various communities and organisations to plan for upcoming events.
What do you like most about your job? What are the most important challenges on a professional level?
The community engagement aspect of the role is one which I thoroughly enjoy. It is a privilege to meet with so many outstanding Victorians who are positively contributing to our community. As a lawyer, having worked predominantly in criminal law, it is a joy to be exposed to the altruistic side of society. As for the challenges, the truth is that time is my worst enemy; there are not enough hours in a day to complete the vast amount of work required.
What was it that attracted you to politics?
The truth is that I wanted to become a lawyer from the age of nine, although back then I did not have a clear picture of the profession. Whilst I was undertaking my law degree, I was selected, among others, and participated twice at Harvard World Model United Nations (Harvard WorldMUN)conferences held in China and Switzerland (Harvard WorldMUN are international events of over 2,000 university students from over 110 countries).
Later, I realised that this was my first contact with the field of politics. At that time, I was completing my law degree in Italy and had attempted to make the move to London to pursue my career on an international level, but the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 changed my plans and led me back to Australia.
After my studies, I started working as a Solicitor Advocate at Galbally Rolfe before moving to the Office of Public Prosecution (focusing on criminal law matters). The next step in my career was the Country Court of Victoria, where I started as a Judge’s Associate and ended up as one of two legal researchers for the 65 judges – a high pressure job with a substantial workload.
I learned a great deal during my time as a researcher because of the wide range of cases I dealt with across the commercial and criminal division of the Court.
In the last two years there, I was promoted to Legal Policy Officer, liaising with various external stakeholders, including the Department of Justice and Regulations in assisting with providing responses on behalf of the Court to proposed changes to legislation and new Bills. I monitored the progression of Bills on a daily basis and provided summaries to the Court.
When I first saw the advertisement for the role as Aide to the Governor, I wasn’t sure if I had the right qualifications for a position like this. Having been selected as an aide I feel very fortunate for the opportunity. I believe that in life we must follow our path, have an open mind and make the best out of the opportunities we are given.
From our brief discussion, I can see that you speak Greek fluently and it seems that you really know the customs of our homeland. What is your connection with Greece and how close are your ties with your Trikala and Pontian origins?
I love Greece and even though I wasn’t born there, every time I step off the plane and breathe the air I feel like I am returning to my homeland. The energy of Athens revitalises my soul and recharges my batteries. My parents migrated to Australia in 1981 and since I was little we have often visited our grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins in Athens and Trikala.
Although at the time it seemed tedious to me, today I am grateful to my parents for sending me to Greek school and for speaking Greek at home.
Whenever I go to Greece, I can’t get enough of visiting the Parthenon and admiring its grandeur. I am an active member of the Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and I participated in the 2016 conference held in London, as I truly support this cause.
As for my Pontian origin, I have been involved in the Pontian Community from the age of four as a member of the dance group. I have been a member of the Constitutional Committee of the Pontian Community of Melbourne Victoria, executive member of the Committee at Pontiaki Estia and member of their dance group.
I try to be as active within the Greek Community as possible: I was vice-president of Chapter Kleio of AHEPA, I am a member of the Organising Committee for Greek National Day, a volunteer at the Antipodes Festival of the Greek Community, and a member of the committee for the construction of the George Devine Treloar Memorial in Ballarat, in honour for his contribution to the rescue of thousands of refugees from Asia Minor.
As an active member of the Australian Greek Community, how do you experience its cohesion and its active participation in society, especially with the increasing flow of Greek immigrants to Australia?
Greek Australians belong to one of the most active communities. It is widely known that we have done an enormous amount to preserve our traditions, culture and language. The Greek community also does a great job in welcoming young immigrants from Greece, providing assistance to make their transition to Melbourne easier, offering English lessons, assisting with the job seeking and supporting them in every possible way.
All the politicians in Australia are aware of the Greek community’s existence thanks to its actions, its coherence, but also because it highlights in a unique way, all of its members that are distinguished in any field.