Celebration of diversity
The power of stories can change the way we see ourselves as a nation
WE ARE one, but we are many . . . so the song goes. Those lyrics have never been more apt in describing modern Australia.
Though cultural stereotypes about what it means to be Australian abound and multiculturalism has been sorely tested, the reality of what makes Australia one of the world’s most socially diverse countries is there for all to see. You just have to be prepared to look.
No one knows this better than ABC Radio National producer Jason Di Rosso.
He is the driving force behind a new four-part series that examines what it means to be Australian.
Beyond the Anglosphere is described as being about the power of stories to change the way we see ourselves as a nation.
The program, which premieres on January 19 in the lead-up to Australia Day, features conversations with storytellers from diverse cultural backgrounds.
What they have in common is their attempts to reflect our nation’s changing identity in film, literature, theatre and television.
The guests talk about what inspires them and the challenges they have faced in trying to be heard.
Di Rosso is excited by the talent he encountered when making the series.
‘‘I’d always felt there was a discrepancy between the Australia I saw outside my door and the one represented in the bulk of television, literature and film,’’ he says.
The series provides a platform for a broad mix of people — from novelist Randa Abdel-Fattah, who recounts what it was like growing up as a Muslim of Arabic descent, to TV funnyman Paul Fenech, from the SBS comedy Pizza.
Other guests include: ADVERTISING copywriter Dennis Koutoulogenis, who believes advertising shouldn’t fall back on stereotypes and cliches. GEORGE Basha, writer and star of The Combination, a film about cross-cultural tensions in Sydney’s western suburbs. OSCAR-nominated screenwriter of Shine Jan Sardi, who grew up in ‘‘the Italian village’’ of Carlton in the 1950s and ’60s. HONG Kong-born author of eight novels Brian Castro who, with his Chinese, Portuguese and English heritage, is one of Australia’s most cosmopolitan writers.
Di Rosso says there is no shortage of viewpoints in the program, and each offers a unique perspective.
‘‘What’s really blown me away is there are now so many exciting voices. Some have been battling away for years; others are just finding their voices now,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s a very fertile time.’’ Each episode of Beyond the Anglosphere, which airs on ABC Radio National at 6pm from January 19-22, is available as a podcast.
novelist Randa Abdel-Fattah and comedian Paul Fenech (below) explore what it means to be Australian.