Happy(?) Australia Day

2016-01-25 22.29.04

It’s Australia day again.

It’s a day of celebration in our family because it is my aunty’s birthday (Happy birthday Aunty Glenda!) but it is also a day that has been making me feel more uncomfortable as time passes. It continues to mark our distinct lack of progress in so many ways.

Our Indigenous People

It clearly is a point of pain for the true Australians. We treated them appallingly and continue to do so on many levels. Many even scoff at their pain and tell them to “get over it.” I have no frame of reference or ability to comprehend the depth of the damage that has been done to our native peoples. From stealing their land to stealing their children to stealing their future, we continue to treat them poorly and contribute to their marginalisation. Yet as a country and a community we have so much we could learn from them if we only stopped to listen.

My commitment is to listen more and to pay homage to their culture. What this means is that when I am hosting or speaking at events one of the things I will always check for is that whether we are doing an acknowledgement or welcome to country. If we are not then I will ask why.

Our Sporting People

Why do we make our sports people god-like? There is no doubt they have worked hard and have skills but how do they make our world a better place? If you consider some of the testosterone fuelled environments that sports people are constantly exposed too, there are naturally some concerns in what sort of person we idolise.

I am continually embarrassed at our performance in olympic games. To perform so well with such a small population means that we must invest far too much in our sports rather than our arts and sciences.

Ok, I will admit, I am not a sports fan. I just don’t get it and I acknowledge that sport brings great joy to the masses but on so many levels it seems like it is just entertainment for the masses so that they don’t upset society. The MCG is our modern equivalent to the Colosseum. Mind numbing reality TV in real life.

Even sport mad friends of mine are now shying away from the professionals and returning to the local sports clubs. Looking for true passion and commitment to the game and not just who is paying the most money.

Sport is definitely a foundation stone in our society. Wouldn’t it be better if it was “A” foundation stone and not “THE” foundation stone?

Our Artists and Scientists

We are smart. Australians are incredibly smart. Our farmers have a history of inventing what they needed, like the stump jumper. Our isolation has meant that we had to “make do” with whatever we could and this has led to some fantastic opportunities.

We have been driving forces behind some fantastic inventions and some amazing creativity. Our artists, musicians, thespians, scientists, medical experts, mathematical gurus, comedians and dilettantes continue to push themselves and carry our society with it. Smart people like Tim Minchin, Adam Spencer, Dr Fiona Wood, Andy Thomas, and Michelle Simmons (just to name a few) continue to entertain, educate and better us. Why do we ignore them?

It is time to let the image of the drunken larrikan aussie die. No doubt it’s fun but it doesn’t serve us like it once may have. Too often our smartest and brightest leave for foreign shores. Surely in this age of globalisation there has to be a way to keep them here? Why can’t our new role model be someone who enjoys all kinds of music, culture, socialisation and is proud to be smart or clever.

Why can’t kids have smart, clever, interesting, surreal, unusual pointed out as role models? Normal is so overrated!

Our People

Our people are being held hostage by our government. The basic concept that our representatives in parliament are FROM the people and FOR the people has been lost. They are no longer our representatives.

Politicians now represent business, special interests and whoever can get them re-elected. Gone are the days of a politician standing up for what is right even if it costs them their position.

I am a huge fan of how Norway invested their oil rights for the population. The COUNTRY gets to benefit from the resources not just one or two companies that may then shift their profit off shore so they don’t have to pay tax.

It continues to astound me how our country has lost our humanity. We treat legal refugees like they are scum, we systemise their trauma and then expect them to feel grateful. We treat our indigenous like their situation is completely their fault and ignore the faults of white history. We seem to continue to make life harder for those who need help and easier for those that don’t.

That’s not the kind of Australia I want to live in.

Our Future

Our future is bright.

Now more than ever we have the resources, the technology, the smarts and the people to create an amazing place in the world. Most of our cities are in the top 10 places to live in the world. We are one of the safest and friendliest nations in the world. We have a strong sense of self and are accepting of those who are different or have different beliefs or ways of being.

This is what excites me about Australia Day.

The possibilities really are limitless.

So no more whinging. No more bitching about “how it was” or “what it could have been”. No more “back in the good old days”. Today is about progress.

My commitment is to do what I can to make Australia a better place:

To challenge authority when it doesn’t act how I think it should. To be proud of how I am in the world and the contribution I make. To encourage others to contribute as they are and as they can. TO have them not have to change who they are to “fit in”.

To accept people as they are, even if it is not in a way I understand or agree with. To respect and celebrate the differences. To talk to those people and try and understand their perspective and not jut push mine.

To break away from tired old stereotypes and create new ones. The be the good in the world and stand for those who can’t stand for themselves.

To show my humanity and share what I have with those who may be less fortunate. To understand that the good of the many can outweigh the good of the few. To look at a bigger picture. To ask, how important is it REALLY?

To accept that being Australian means having a larrikan side as well as having a smart side. To enjoy life, friends and experiences.

To not shy away from the hard questions. To let go of judgement and ask better questions rather than assume the same old answers. To put myself in uncomfortable situations so I can learn and grow. To not play it safe.

To be there for others who need me even when they don’t think they do. To accept I don’t know everything but that is ok, someone will and all I have to do is find them.

To make life better for those around me, and in the process enjoy a better life.

What will you commit to this Australia Day?


PS Here is a Buzzfeed Video on 17 Things Australia invented. I told you we were smart