Cel­e­brate our Aus­tralian cul­ture united with pride

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION - DR FARVARDIN DALIRI

WHEN peo­ple pass by 155 Nathan St, across the road from the lo­cal McDon­ald’s restau­rant, they can see a few large sculp­tures rep­re­sent­ing Ned Kelly, Johnathan Thurston, Slim Dusty, an Abo­rig­i­nal lore man, a huge horse and wagon and the iconic Jolly Swag­man. What a bizarre com­bi­na­tion! Slim is busy with his gui­tar, King Bun­dawaal is play­ing his didgeri­doo, JT is ready for the next win, the Swag­man is hold­ing his billy and Ned is clutch­ing his gun! Of­ten tourists stop by and take pho­tos, think­ing this is a high- pro­file tourist at­trac­tion which had been left off their lo­ca­tion at­trac­tions guide­book.

Soon they re­alise this is the of­fice of the Townsville Cul­tural Fest and these gi­ant art fea­tures are re­flec­tions of the com­mit­ment the fes­ti­val has made to up­hold and cel­e­brate the true Aus­tralian cul­tural nar­ra­tive, in­clus- ive of all of its his­tory and di­ver­sity.

Af­ter 23 years, there are still some peo­ple in Townsville who are not sure about what this show is about! These are the peo­ple who have missed the Townsville Cul­tural Fest dur­ing the last few years. I hope they don’t miss it again this year be­cause I truly be­lieve that it is unique and the peo­ple of Townsville should be proud of this home­grown and uni­fy­ing event, which is com­mit­ted to bring­ing Aus­tralians of all back­grounds to­gether, within the frame­work of the Aus­tralian cul­tural nar­ra­tive.

With over 3000 mostly lo­cal peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing 275 par­tic­i­pat­ing groups of mu­si­cians, cul­tural per­form­ers, work­shop pre­sen­ters, heal­ers, food op­er­a­tors, artists and crafts peo­ple, ed­u­ca­tors, en­ter­tain­ers and spir­i­tual coaches, the fes­ti­val is set to un­der­mine di­vi­sive mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and cel­e­brate Aus­tralia with our “Unity in Di­ver­sity” space.

Over the past two decades this fes­ti­val has worked re­lent­lessly to coun­ter­act cul­tural di­vi­sions within the whole com­mu­nity. As fes­ti­val founder, I have al­ways ad­vo­cated for ac­knowl­edg­ment of the indige­nous peo­ple’s his­tory and the Aus­tralian unique, in­clu­sive and in­de­pen­dent cul­tural nar­ra­tive which is the only true ba­sis for com­mu­nity co­he­sion. No other cul­ture but Aus­tralian cul­ture has a proven record of ac­cept­ing di­ver­sity and ad­dress­ing its past mis­takes with fair­ness and eq­uity. And this is wor­thy of cel­e­bra­tion and na­tional pride.

I made the Ned Kelly sculp­ture, be­cause he stood up for what he be­lieved was right and fair and that is how his leg­end be­came the crit­i­cal un­der­pin­ning ele­ment of Aus­tralia’s cul­ture – a fair go for all. I made the Jolly Swag­man sculp­ture based on Banjo Pat­ter­son’s Waltz­ing Matilda be­cause his tale is in­grained in the DNA of Aus­tralian cul­ture. The Swag­man’s story of a hard­work­ing trav­el­ling labourer, whose tenac­ity in se­cur­ing a jum­buck has en­sured his foot­print and sweat has touched ev­ery Aus­tralian farm­ing com­mu­nity. The Abo­rig­i­nal lore man has come life based on Slim Dusty’s King to Bun­dawaal and rep­re­sents the early devel­op­ment of Aus­tralia’s rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process, which was sup­ported by the leg­endary Aus­tralian coun­try mu­si­cian Slim Dusty. Slim’s sto­ries painted scener­ies of the emerg­ing Aus­tralian cul­tural nar­ra­tive with all its colours, joys, hard­ships, droughts, wars, farm­ers, Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and the pub with no beer. His song and mu­sic is pure and fa­cil­i­tates a cul­ture blind. Slim nar­rated what he saw with hon­esty and sim­plic­ity.

The JT statue sym­bol­ises our com­mu­nity’s unity and one­ness which in­cludes ev­ery­thing from our Dream­time leg­ends to the re­cently ar­rived refugees.

And this is the Aus­tralian way; see­ing no colour or type, but sim­ply won­der­ful and in­ter­est­ing peo­ple with all sorts of sto­ries to share. And that is what the Townsville Cul­tural Fest is about – sim­ply shar­ing and en­joy­ing the free­dom and dig­nity of the space within which we share and cel­e­brate with Unity In Di­ver­sity.

Come along and cel­e­brate Aus­tralia with pride and joy.

DI­VER­SITY: Dr Farvardin Daliri, with Abo­rig­i­nal el­ders Al­bert Ab­dul- Rah­man and Vir­ginia Wyles with King Bun­dawaal and oth­ers at last year’s Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.