Mary Kostakidis

Mary Kostakidis

Mary Kostakidis (born 1954) is the former weeknight SBS World News Australia presenter.

Mary Kostakidis was the first woman appointed to present a national prime time news bulletin in Australia.

She was member of the management team that set up and developed SBS Television in 1980 and went on to present its flagship World News for 20 years, resigning in 2007.

Her board and committee appointments during nearly 3 decades at SBS and subsequently reflect a strong commitment to social justice and interest in the arts.

She is currently a member of the Fred Hollows Foundation Board, the Sydney Theatre Board, the National Library of Australia Council, the ResMed Foundation Board, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors(NSW).

The Sydney Peace Foundation is a University of Sydney Foundation and its major Partner in Peace is the City of Sydney. Annually it awards Australia's only international prize for peace, the Sydney Peace Prize. Past recipients include Muhammad Yunus, Xanana Gusmão, Mary Robinson, Hanan Ashrawi, Arundhati Roy, Hans Blix, Irene Khan and Patrick Dodson.

In 2009 Kostakidis served on the National Human Rights Consultation Committee chaired by Frank Brennan. The Committee inquired into the adequacy of the protection and promotion of human rights in Australia, holding consultations in metropolitan, rural and remote areas across the country and receiving over 35,000 written submissions. They recommended a raft of measures, the most contentious of which was a Human Rights Act. Human rights education was the measure that had the greatest support of those that took part in the consultation, but the overwhemling majority supported human rights legislation. The four member Committee also included Mick Palmer and Tammy Williams.

From 1997 till 2003 she served on the Advertising Standards Board; in 1993 she was appointed by then Prime Minister Paul Keating to Republican Advisory Committee chaired by Malcolm Turbull; in the early nineties she also served on the Council for the Order of Australia and in 1992 was a founding member of the James Joyce Foundation Board along with Ed Campion and Don Anderson. She has also been an active member of the Kazantzaki society.

Kostakidis has also served as an Ambassador for Beyond Blue and was also a member of the Drug and Alcohol Council, the Breast Cancer Council Advisory Committee and the Constitutional Centenary Foundation.


Early life and career

She was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and migrated to Australia with her family two years later. Kostakidis attended Fort Street Girls' High School, and the University of Sydney, where she studied Modern Greek, Philosophy, French, German and Italian. She was also a founding member and first President of the University's Greek Society. She went on to complete a Diploma of Education in order to prepare for a career as a teacher. Kostakidis won a post-graduate scholarship to study at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Before joining SBS, Kostakidis worked as a tutor at the University of Sydney, as a research officer for the Departments of Health and Youth and Community Services in New South Wales and as a court interpreter and a translations editor. She once worked for ABC Radio news. During the assignment as an interpreter on the socalled Greek Conspiracy Case in the late 1970s, she organised a conversion course for Greek interpreters at the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission in conjunction with Sydney University Modern Greek lecturer Dr Alfred Vincent, to facilitate a conversion from the formal katharevousa to demotic or vernacular Greek so that the defendants in the case would be able to understand the language being used.


Kostakidis acted in a children's television series called Five Times Dizzy in 1986 with Rebekah Elmaloglou. She has also appeared in the movies Jindabyne and Look Both Ways as a newsreader.


Kostakidis joined SBS as part of the original management team in September 1980 and worked to set up the Subtitling Unit. She became Director of Programme Preparation where she was involved in developing policies of censorship and classification.

She previously co-hosted the main SBS World News at 6.30 pm weekdays with Stan Grant.

Walk-out and legal action

On 21 August 2007 it was reported that Kostakidis had stormed out of the newsroom a week and a half earlier, furious at changes to the news bulletin. Although SBS said she was ill and taking leave, it was reported she had concluded her role as co-host due to differences in opinion over the increasingly commercial direction SBS was taking since the 2003 arrival of former New Zealand TV boss Shaun Brown.[1]

On 5 October 2007 Kostakidis lodged a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Australia, alleging a breach of contract and contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1975 on the part of SBS, citing alleged bullying by fellow presenter Stan Grant.[2] Kostakidis secured the services of a prominent Melbourne lawyer, Julian Burnside QC and was expected to argue that her contract stated she would be the primary presenter of the programme, and that she would be able to exercise some editorial control.[3]

The court action was later discontinued, and on 23 November 2007 Kostakidis reportedly reached an "amicable settlement" with SBS. The financial details of the settlement have not been disclosed.[4]


Kostakidis is active in the community and has a long standing interest in social justice issues. She is a member of the Drug and Alcohol Council, the Order of Australia Honours committee, the Sydney Olympic Cultural Organising Committee and was a member of the Breast Cancer Council Advisory Committee. She was appointed as a member to the Constitutional Centenary Foundation and to the Republic Advisory Committee. In August 1997 she was appointed to the Advertising Standards Board.


Preceded by
George Donikian
SBS World News Australia

Succeeded by
co-anchor with Stan Grant

External links

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