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Australia (whatever that means) Day

Posted by on January 24, 2015 at 8:05 PM

You may have seen the new advertisement for Australian lamb, featuring iconic cricketing legend Richie Benaud, along with Ned Kelly, Captain Cook (Cookie) and others. Presumably it's meant to represent something quintessentially Australian. The 90s/early 00s Qantas ads, featuring the Australian children’s choir singing 'I still call Australia home', were probably intended to do the same. This week, an amateur mash-up video Straya is a more light-hearted attempt. On the dreamy end of the scale, the ‘exclusive heaven’ of the new National Capital’s ‘Confident. Bold. Ready’ campaign video is more of the same. And we shouldn't forget the 'where the bloody hell are you?' perspective on brand 'Australia'.


There’s the Australia of adventure, the laid back sunburnt country, discovery, the fair go, mateship, the Boxing Day test, the shrimp on the barbecue (I confess I've never had a shrimp on a barbecue), surfing, a good cold beer. There’s the Australia of prevalent mental health issues, high suicide rates, broken families, the indigenous welfare gap, the non-indigenous welfare gap. There’s the Australia of Indigenous culture, sustainability, the dreamtime, stewardship of the land, multi-culturalism, endeavour, migrants, the arts, innovation, social progression. There’s the Australia of closed-mindedness, fear, mindless consumerism, entitlement, resource-rape, bury-our-heads-in-the-sand-she’ll-be-right carpe-diemism. And blends and shades and variations between. And of course there’s the Australia where we spend our lives in a virtual world on facebook constructing what we think Australia is about. And implicit in the above are my own biases.


So I wonder whether the debate about when Australia Day should be is actually not the real question (it’s a no brainer that changing from January 26 won’t hurt anyone, whereas keeping it does. Surely that's the end of the debate?). Rather than vapid parochialism, on whatever day of the year we devote to it, what is perhaps more interesting is a day that honestly explores all the competing narratives of what it means to be Australian, none of which we can deny (the good and the bad alike), and ask ourselves what we can do practically to reinforce the narratives that draw out the best in all of us, not just recline in a cloister of self-satisfied righteousness, together with all those ‘true’ Australians who agree with us.

If anyone knows where this conversation is happening, let me know...


The views are the author's at the time of writing, and don't necessarily reflect the view of anyone else, or Inside Change officially, nor necessarily the author's own view at any given time after writing it. Thoughts in the moment for the moment, for what they're worth...


Categories: Australia, Dialogue

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