Cel­e­bra­tion of di­ver­sity

The power of sto­ries can change the way we see our­selves as a na­tion

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - GREG THOM

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.

Iden­tity:

nov­el­ist Randa Ab­del-Fat­tah and co­me­dian Paul Fenech (be­low) ex­plore what it means to be Aus­tralian.

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