Tribute to Nicholas Xynias AO BEM

Nicholas Xynias was born on 20 March 1933 in Ismailia, Egypt. He was the third son of Rigas and Kyriakoula Xynias, who emigrated from the Island of Limnos in Greece. He had fond memories of a happy childhood in Ismailia along with his brothers Pandeli, Anthony, John, Con and sister Evangelia. Nick worked as a mechnical engineer with the British Army in Egypt until he decided in 1956 to hop on a boat that was heading towards Australia. He had a landing permit for ten years and decided that if things did not work out by then, he would go home. Lucky for us he didn't!

After two years, and feeling quite homesick, Nick started attending the Greek Orthodox Church, where he met his future wife Cleopatra (Pat). It was also at this church that Nick resumed his volunteering activities as a Scout Leader, which he had always enjoyed back in Ismailia. He had always been inspired by the Scout Promise, to serve God, your country and fellow man. As he said, "how can you go wrong with such a principle?", so it was with great enthusiasm that he began the Hellenic Scout Group with sixty Cubs, Scouts and Rovers.

In January 1959 he married Pat and they went on to have four children, Rick, Kerry, Angela and Demitri, who with their partners Maria, Mark and Julie have blessed them with five grandchildren, Nicholas, John, Alexander, Zac and Isabella. Nick was very proud of all his children and grandchildren.

Nick was very passionate and committed to whatever he put his mind to. He believed that whatever you put in is what you get back. He lived life to the full and took every opportunity to make every day wonderful. He worked tirelessly and was dedicated to improving the life of those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

In his early years his volunteering career spanned between The Greek Ethnic Schools Association and the Society of Greeks from Egypt and the Middle East. In 1964, Nick joined Australian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and over fifty years was a dedicated member and respected leader.

In 1976, he co-founded the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ) and served on its board, including as Chairman, for many years. He lobbied tirelessly for funding to establish a multicultural nursing home. In August 1988 he oversaw the purchase of Berlasco Court Caring Centre. In 1989, he oversaw the start of the Community Options Program, renamed Diversicare in 2000, to assist the ageing culturally diverse population to receive assistance in their homes. Nick continued his involvement with ECCQ in the role of Honorary President and Volunteer Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Nick was also a member of the: Ethnic Affairs Advisory Council; Commonwealth Migrant Consulting Council; Queensland Aboriginal Reconciliation Council; Queensland Multicutlural Coordinating Committee; Department of Ethnic Affairs Ministerial Advisory Committee; Migrant Consultative Council of the Departments of Social Security and Education, Employment & Training; Centenary of Federation Queensland Committee; Brisbane's Multicultulral Business Round Table (chair); Responsible Gambling Advisory Committee; Jupiter's Casino Community Benefit Fund trustee; Queensland Police Academy Committee and many more.

He was recently appointed to the Queensland Advisory Committee for the Commemoration of ANZAC Centenary. He was also appointed by the Premier to the chair of the recently established Queensland Multicultural Roundtable.

Her Majesty The Queen personally awarded Nick the British Empire Medal (BEM) in 1982. He was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1995, and in 2001 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). In 2004, he was named one of five Queensland Greats and in 2008 he was named Brisbane's Senior Citizen of the Year. He also received the Millennium Award in 2000.

Nick often acknowledged that without the support and encouragement of his wife Pat and his family, he would not have been able to be as actively involved in all that he did.

Nick was often described as a gentleman and a leader. Above all, he was a devoted husband, loving father and wonderful grandfather. He was as active at home as he was out in his community.

He had many passions such as collecting old matchbox cars, coins and stamps. He loved gardening, especially his mangoes, which he was very proud of. He would often be down in his workshop, fixing and making things or simply organising his tools. In between all of this, Nick still found time for his other passion, playing cards. He was always ready for a card game with family and friends.

All those who knew him will agree, to have met him is to have loved him. The beautiful memories of Nick will live on with his family.

Nick will be lovingly remembered by his family, friends and colleagues.


This tribute is from the Autumn 2015 Special Edition of EVOCA, the magazine of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland.