Varvara Athanasiou-Ioannou

Varvara Athanasiou-Ioannou has been instrumental in the evolution of multicultural policy, towards changing the policy of assimilation to inclusiveness.

Honour Roll

She is committed to social justice and human rights for migrant women refugees and other disadvantaged groups. Born in Greece in 1953, Varvara immigrated to Australia when she was 19. She initially did a teaching diploma, then completed a Bachelor of Education at La Trobe University and started a Masters in Education.

Varvara has a combined educational, consultancy and human resource background. She has worked extensively in the field of curriculum development, including writing, initiating and implementing policy for the Victorian Education Department dealing with cultural change in schools introducing language other than English (LOTE) frameworks. She worked with the Ethnic Education Services division of the Education Department and wrote national curriculum on teaching Greek from prep to Year 8. This was later translated into 16 other languages. In the mid 1980s, she taught and implemented a new curriculum across the Coburg West Primary School.

Varvara has held senior consultancy and human resource management roles with Ericsson Australia and Australia Post. Most recently she has been running Australia Post's Get A Balanced Life Program and the Women's Information Network (WIN). She has also been a sessional lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology in the Bachelor of Business program.

In 1996 Varvara was nominated by the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria to represent women of Greek background from Oceania at the International Conference held in Greece by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad. In 1999 she was elected to the 11-member board of the World Committee for Hellenic Women Abroad. Through the Cultural Association of Hellenic Women of Victoria, Varvara has been the founder of a unique and dynamic, non-profit initiative called 'Food For Thought Network' - a women's network with a developmental focus in the areas of work, family, language, culture, health and wellbeing. She was also on the Board of the RMIT University Course Advisory Committee for Logistics and Transport for three years.

Varvara's work is based on diversity principles of inclusiveness for everyone. She creates opportunities and actively removes barriers to allow people to succeed and is enormously energetic and dedicated. Varvara is a positive role model and mentor for many women, not just within the Greek community. She has a passion for wanting to make a difference in the world.