This year’s Australia Day program will focus on the diverse state of NSW, centred on the theme ‘Everyone, every story,’ with a range of events inviting people to reflect what it means to be Australian.
As many see diversity as a progressive part of our society, others might beg to differ. For as much as ‘diversity’ blooms in the national debate, there is little agreement on what it is.
“Diversity means many things to many people,” Sydney’s Australia Day Creative Director John Foreman says. “The idea behind ‘Everyone, every story’ is people coming together, regardless of political views or roots. We’re a nation filled with different backgrounds and experiences.”
Renowned social researcher and author Hugh Mackay has been announced as the 2019 Australia Day Address Speaker, and is expected to add some thought-provoking discussion on diversity. “Hugh is a well-respected bloke with unique ideas. The Australia Day address is for us to stop and think where we’re going, where we’ve been and it’s good to have this conversation,” Mr Foreman says.
The nation will celebrate the day with fireworks, backyard barbecues and some beer. But let’s not forget what safeguards our freedom. Our diverse, multicultural society.
“The vast majority of Australians are people of goodwill,” Mr Foreman says. “They enjoy living within a tolerant, inclusive society, and you see that in the way they accept one another, regardless of colour or religion. They’re very proud of that.”
But Australia is only as strong as we are willing to defend it, and the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
People living in a diverse nation aren’t always agreeable — everyone everywhere are entitled to an opinion — and when it becomes argumentative, it’s often a sign we’re passionate about our views.
“When we start insulting each other, the argument becomes less valuable and impactful,” Mr Foreman says. “However, when we’re able to express and give reasons without insults, then we’re able to become more convincing. I would encourage people to do that.”
Mr Foreman urges that explaining your position is more likely to make someone see things from your perspective.
“You only need to travel around the world to see how lucky we are,” Foreman explains. “Lacking diversity can cause huge misconceptions about other people, so it only makes sense to keep an open mind. We should acknowledge the things that unite us together.”
So as we celebrate, take a moment to remember what our country stands for: diversity, inclusion and respect. Always reflecting what it means to be Australian.