The current Member of Parliament for Oakleigh was born and raised in the local community. He is the son of migrant parents from Greece who taught him to think critically and question everything from religion to politics.
Before entering politics Mr Dimopoulos was a local business owner in Oakleigh setting up the Cosmic Bear cafe in 2002. His career spans the Department of Justice, Department of the Premier and the Cabinet as well as working for the former federal member for Hotham Simon Cream.
Mr Dimopoulos is a keen cafe fan as seen through his Instagram. He “honestly doesn’t have a favourite cafe in the area because there are so many good ones” and when put to him whether he preferred ‘Nikos cakes’ or ‘Vanilla’ in Oakleigh a balanced response was given.
“In the morning I love loukoumades and a short machiatto from Nikos and in the evening a beautiful meal and an ouzo from Vanilla”, he said.
Mr Dimopoulos supports real time disclosure of all donations to political parties.
“Labor does not only support real time disclosure in Victoria, we’ve made it a reality…by passing legislation regarding Victoria’s political donations laws, making Victoria’s laws the strictest and most transparent in Australia, large donations to political parties have been completely eliminated, and the disclosure limit has been reduced from $13’500 to $1000 per financial year”, he said.
Mental health is of great importance to Mr Dimopoulos. When asked about the Federal Liberal Government’s proposal of an inquiry into the mental health system he said that “it’s nice to see the Federal Government finally acknowledging the importance of having a policy to address mental health issues but they’re incredibly late to the discussion”.
He would like to see a “nationally holistic approach”. Victoria currently has a ten-year mental health plan in place and $705 million has been invested in mental health support. He is a big proponent of Labor’s engagement in mental health highlighting that investment has increased by 181 per cent since Labor was elected.
If Labour is re-elected the Andrews government has promised to establish Australia first ever Royal commission into Mental Health. Mr Dimopoulos was the chair of the mental health taskforce under the current ten-year plan.
When asked about mental health in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Oakleigh the MP acknowledged that these groups “often suffer from poorer mental health outcomes…only seeking services when their illness is more severe, more investment is being put in place to address language and cultural barriers”. Mr Dimopoulos commended PRONIA – the Australian Greek Welfare Society in providing leadership for mental health services within the community.
When asked about the sky rail project that will be running through parts of Oakleigh Mr Dimopoulos did acknowledge that “some residents are quite strongly opposed to the elevated model, though many residents also fully support the project”.
The project was given the go ahead after consultation with residents in Oakleigh and other suburbs including Glen Eira, Monash and Greater Dandenong council. This included nearly 50 community consultations at a range of locations to obtain community input into the project design prior to implementation in 2015.
He blamed the Liberal government for some of the misinformation that may have turned residents against the project.
“Liberal staff members were door-knocking my community using push-polling methods without disclosing their party affiliation”, he said.
If re-elected, Mr Dimopoulos promised that another 21 rail level crossings would be removed to complement the 29 that were removed during his current term. He also flagged that 65 new high capacity trains will be deployed next year, as well as building the Mordialloc Freeway, the North-East Link and the West Gate Tunnel.
He points out that infrastructure sits at the core of Labor’s election campaign promising a rail connection linking all Victoria’s major train lines. This includes a proposed new station at Monash University, Clayton and a train line to the Melbourne airport.
Apart from infrastructure, he mentions the importance of properly funding the education and health systems and the recently announced policy of rebates for household solar power.
“Government shouldn’t be about making promises during an election campaign – it’s about actually delivering for our community. We have a record of getting things done and that’s what we’ll continue to do if we’re re-elected”, he said.