Fences are scheduled to started going up around Musgrave Park today in readiness for the 2023 Paniyiri Greek Festival.

There’s been plenty of chatter in the media and on social media in the past few weeks about the status of the Paniyira Festival, and organisers have felt the need to defend decisions to hold the event in Musgrave Park and to charge an entry fee. 

Community concerns have centred on the needs of people sleeping rough at Musgrave Park and some have queried whether people might be evicted to enable the event to proceed.

Chris Kazonis OAM, Chairman of the Paniyiri Organising Committee, advised the Westender that Paniyiri organisers have been working closely with Brisbane City Council and the State Government to ensure people camping in the park can find appropriate accommodation. He stressed that the Paniyiri Committee wanted to avoid seeing any campers moved on from the park and hoped to see people access suitable housing.

The Lord Mayor also made a public commitment last week that no one will be evicted from the park.

“Normally, you can’t just set up a tent in a park, we will move you on. But at this point in time, there are very few places for people to go. Often the Crisis Accommodation providers are telling us that they’ve got nothing available. And so, we’re not going to kick people out of a park if there’s nowhere for them to go, that would be unreasonable and uncaring,” Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner told Neil Breen on 4BC on 4 May.

In response to media speculation about the festival and its location at Musgrave Park Michael-Angelo Anastas, President of the Greek Orthodox Community (GOC) of St George in Brisbane, stated on 5 May:

“GOC St George is aware that the housing crisis has left a large impact on several areas not least South Brisbane. Locally, those living in Musgrave Park have increased significantly in the past few months. A lack of planning in the public housing sector is having serious ramifications on the social fabric of these areas. The issue is not going to solve itself and is evidence of the inner struggles of a global city.”


A spokesperson from the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy (CHD) told the Westender that the Department has been working with key stakeholders, including Brisbane City Council, Micah Projects, Communify, Queensland Police Service, Homeless Health Outreach Team and Brisbane Youth Service to support people who are sleeping rough at Musgrave Park and the Go Between Bridge.

“Our Housing Pathways teams are undertaking outreach visits with these stakeholders to Musgrave Park and the Go Between Bridge,” the CHD spokesperson said.

“The Housing Pathways teams are a dedicated team of departmental staff who are engaging with residents to establish individual housing needs and identify alternative accommodation.

“Alternative accommodation options have been identified including additional accommodation in boarding houses and local funded Specialist Homelessness Services.”

The Department said that in the Brisbane Local Government Area, as of 1 April 2023, the Department provides $51 million in funding across 31 non-government organisations to deliver Specialist Homelessness Services, including immediate supported accommodation and other services to help people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. 

Newly appointed Gabba Ward Councillor, Trina Massey, told the Westender that she and her office have been liaising with Council, the State Government and services such as Micah Projects, Communify, West End Community House, Feeding 4101, elders at Jagera Hall and recently with GOC – the organisers of Paniyiri.

Cr Massey told the Westender last week that most rough sleepers and homeless people have been supported to find accommodation, with the help of services and government agencies but she said, should people remain camping at Musgrave Park during Paniyiri they should always have free access to open space and facilities like toilets and the BBQ area.

‘The footprint of the festival from conversations with Council and GOC will enable anyone that remains to have access to open space and amenities. We’ve been advocating this to ensure that people aren’t displaced or forcibly moved. I think we can all recognise it is a particularly difficult time for rough sleepers and homeless people’.

Commenting on claims that an officer working with the Logan Council has moved a homeless person to Musgrave Park, Cr Massey told the Courier Mail , “the reality is that we have a renting and housing crisis – it’s a systematic issue”.

“What we need is the State government, Federal and councils to really look at this in a truthful, honest and compassionate way,” Cr Massey told the Courier Mail.

A fuller statement from Cr Massey was posted on her Facebook page on Friday.


Community Services in Musgrave Park – Image posted by Micah Projects on Facebook on 8 May.

Mr Kazonis told the Westender that the Paniyiri Organising Committee rejects claims such as those made by former Councillor, Jonathan Sriranganathan that Paniyiri is too commercial and should not be charging an entry fee. He said that the entry fees cover the costs of security and other amenities necessary to put on a safe event for all visitors. 

Mr Kazonis said that schools and community groups raise funds through Paniyiri and that many return funds to the community through their charitable work.

Services that benefit from funds donated by Paniyiri include the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, the Greek Ethnic School of Saint George, GOC Care, Aged & Community Care, Welfare, Childcare, Saint Nicholas Nursing Home and many more.

Since its inception in 1976, Paniyiri Greek Festival is now the longest-running cultural festival in Queensland and the longest-running Greek festival in Australia. It brings crowds of up to 60,000 people over the two-day festivities. It also brings the Greek community together to share their culture with the people of Brisbane. Over a thousand volunteers help with the running of the festival.

For more updates and information, please visit the Official Paniyiri website: http://paniyiri.com/


The Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy encourages anyone who needs housing assistance to contact the Fortitude Valley Housing Service Centre on (07) 3034 6500 during business hours or the 24/7 Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753.

Cover image supplied.

Share this story using the social media icons below or join the conversation in the comments box.