United in di­ver­sity

Let’s cel­e­brate our dif­fer­ences in­stead of fear­ing them

Life & Style Weekend - - MIND - Rowena Hardy

WHAT will you be do­ing on Aus­tralia Day? Cel­e­brat­ing with a back­yard bar­bie, catch­ing up with friends and family, hav­ing a game of beach cricket per­haps or just qui­etly en­joy­ing another pub­lic hol­i­day?

Whether you were born here or have cho­sen to take up Aus­tralian res­i­dency or cit­i­zen­ship, Aus­tralia Day seems to be a day of cel­e­bra­tion for some and for oth­ers more re­cently a day to re­flect on the his­tory of Aus­tralia Day, its rel­e­vance in mod­ern Aus­tralia and whether the date should be changed.

I chose to take up Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship in 2002 for var­i­ous rea­sons and I some­times won­der how to de­fine “Aus­tralian” and all that it means. And then I hear some­thing be­ing de­scribed as “un-Aus­tralian”. I find that a bit con­fus­ing, too.

Be­cause I feel that if you took a cross-sec­tion of Aus­tralian ci­ti­zens which re­flected our cur­rent mul­ti­cul­tural di­ver­sity and asked them to de­scribe Aus­tralian, there would be many dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions de­pend­ing on what brought them here in the first place.

Whether as a re­sult of in­creas­ing glob­al­i­sa­tion and ease of travel, cli­mate change or in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal power plays, there is no doubt that mil­lions of peo­ple across the world have left their cul­tural home­land look­ing for some­where else to re­build their lives, and Aus­tralia has a lot to of­fer in terms of op­por­tu­ni­ties, cli­mate, and size of pop­u­la­tion. As a re­sult we are see­ing greater mul­ti­cul­tural di­ver­sity than ever be­fore which, in it­self, will change the Aus­tralian iden­tity.

Some will find that pos­i­tive and em­brace it and oth­ers will find it neg­a­tive and push against it.

Given that our brain is primed to al­ways be on the look­out for “threats” and has a bias for treat­ing any­one we haven’t met pre­vi­ously as foe be­fore friend, I would say that we all need to make an ef­fort to over­come our bi­ases and wel­come these new Aus­tralians. Easy to say, hard to do?

It is only when we choose to see be­yond lan­guage, skin colour, cul­ture and be­lief sys­tems, re­li­gious or oth­er­wise, that we can start to recog­nise we are all the same; humans do­ing the best we can with what we have in the cir­cum­stances in which we find our­selves. Our pri­mary driv­ers are to cre­ate a safe and healthy fu­ture with a roof over our head and food on the ta­ble for our­selves and our loved ones, ir­re­spec­tive of our cul­tural

We are see­ing greater mul­ti­cul­tural di­ver­sity which, in it­self, will change the Aus­tralian iden­tity.

back­ground. And then it’s about build­ing so­cial con­nec­tion.

So what I in­vite you to fo­cus on this Aus­tralia Day, and ev­ery day, is greater tol­er­ance and com­pas­sion for all of our di­verse fel­low humans. Rather than fo­cus­ing on the dif­fer­ences that seem to di­vide, how about we cel­e­brate and value di­ver­sity, safety, har­mony and in­clu­sion and all that they of­fer a healthy com­mu­nity.

That would be great def­i­ni­tion of Aus­tralian, wouldn’t it?

Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: www.mind­saligned.com.au

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

The Aus­tralian iden­tity is chang­ing as we be­come more mul­ti­cul­tural.

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