Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Australia Day

So, today it is Australia day and I am extremely thankful to be living in a country of such beauty and diversity; Not just it’s landscape but in it’s people as well.

image source

I think that Australians are fiercely proud of this wonderful country. Traditionally though, it has been a deep seated pride, found running under the surface, filling hearts and minds with the belief, motivation and courage to accomplish great things in many fields such as wartime, sporting, medical, and scientific, just to name a few. It has never really been the ‘shout it from the rooftops and emblazon every surface with the flag’ kind of pride........

I have traveled to the USA on several occasions, once a mere 2-weeks post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On each visit I was stunned and touched by the level of pride and patriotism shown in that country. The American flag, proudly flying from flagpoles and rooftops seemed to bring the people together, giving them a common purpose, sense of belonging, community and safety.

I was also in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla, In January 2006, just after the ‘race riots’ of December 2005. Walking around the streets in the predominantly white Angelo Saxon suburb, our family was greeted with the site of an Australian flag hanging from almost every balcony, window or veranda. Many cars drove the streets with their flags cracking in the breeze, often honking and hollering! This should have made me feel proud. However it actually made me feel a little uneasy….The flags, and the prevailing feelings and attitude at the time seemed to represent more than nationalism, pride and patriotism. They seemed to represent something defensive, like an animal making its territory, or a call to arms.

Of course I think that Australian themed decorations for Australia day parties and children is a fabulous and fun way to celebrate Australia day. But, now, when I see cars driving around with those flags…again cracking in the breeze. I can’t help wondering what their motives are. If it is for patriotism, fun and celebration, then great!.....but is there something more? 

Interestingly, I read a recent article which suggested a higher percentage of drivers of cars that displayed the Australian flag, support the white Australia policy (as opposed to the percentage of  drivers with no flags on their cars, that supported the White Australia policy). I wouldn't go as far as concluding that this research means that drivers of cars displaying flags are racist, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Growing up in Country NSW, I have heard family members and their friends vocally ‘discussing’ such issues as the white Australia policy, immigration, refugees and boat people. I decline to participate in these discussions as some of the extreme viewpoints only end up making me feel sad and discouraged. The protagonists know that I agree to disagree.

However, to feel positive and hopeful about the future of this great country, I only need to look at my children. I believe that they have been brought up in a family and school community mostly free of racial stereotypes. My daughters can sing the Australian National Anthem in an Aboriginal language, they are learning to speak conversational Indonesian, They have learnt about festivals, celebrations and traditions from other cultures including there own. All theses things have taught them the value and importance of  cultures that are not there own.

.My children do not seem to categories people based on the color of their skin. In fact, they were curious about a conversation that was occurring over dinner about the refugee boat sinking in rough seas at Christmas island causing much loss of life. When I explained to them the story, they showed compassion and sadness rather than fear and hostility.

My children also love the Australian flag and they love to fly it for Australia day!

I know it is not just my children that have been bought up to think like this….this is why I celebrate Australia day, with the Australian flag. 

My motive for celebrating with the Australian flag is for the flag tosymbolizes hope. Hope for the acceptance of diversity. Hope for compassion, empathy and hope for the future.

For me, my feelings about Australia day are described beautifully in the song by  the members of the Australian band the Seekers, that many, many children have learnt at school.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and speak with one voice
I am,
You are,
We are,

I'm thankful to be living in such a beautiful and diverse country and I'm linking up with Kate from Kate Says Stuff. Pop on over and see what others are thankful for this Australia day!

Happy Australia Day!


  1. My hub has a flag on his (old school F series) ute and he loves it. I think it's a bit hilarious and a tribute to his bogan ways ;)

    I'd love to think that most glad flyers are simply proud of our country, although sadly I know thee is more to it than that for some.

  2. Thanks Kate, That's just what I was trying to say.....

  3. Wonderful sentiment. I knew a little about this, so it was interesting to read more detail. Happy Australia Day to you.

    1. Thank you Donna, I'm glad you found it interesting!

  4. Great post Nic, great minds must think alike, this is the topic for my TT post as well :)

  5. I agree Rhianna...great minds! It's hard not to be thankful living in such a wonderful country!

  6. Great post. No flags on any of our cars.

    You have encapsulated being Australian really well. We are a country in constant inner turmoil about everything. But we are a great country. A really great one.

    Good job.

    1. Thanks B! We are a really great country, I agree!! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I'm so glad I was able to get across what I was thinking...Thanks for understanding :)

  7. Living in Darwin we have a very multicultural population, and to be honest, I don't see a lot of racism at all. Nothing like what we hear of in the news at least.
    I've never really thought of the flag waving as anything more than a bit of fun, and it. Others me to think its not that way for some.

    1. Thanks Jess for your comment. I agree that flag waving should be just a bit of fun, as I think it is for the vast majority.

  8. A great post. I am a flag flying Australian - not because I am racist but because I am proud to be Australian. I came froma country torn apart by racism and I will not support it in any way, shape or form. I love that our children can learn about many different cultures here. I hope that you had a grea day and enjoyed your pavlova !!!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. I am a proud Australian too and I think that flying the flag is a great way to show that. I just wonder about the motives behind the flag flying of some. I hope that they don't ruin it for the rest of us!

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  10. Thank you everyone for reading and commenting. I just wanted to clarify that I am not against flag waiving. I just question the motivations of a small minority of flag wavers that seem to use the flag to symbolize some sort of white-only Australia.

    I think we should take back the flag, re-claim it and use it to symbolize hope for a united future.

  11. Really well said. Just a shame not everyone's on the same page.