AUSTRALIA DAY: WE ARE ONE AND FREE

On January 26, Australia comes together to celebrate our nation and what it means to be Australian. A day to reflect on history, starting thousands of years ago, show respect to the country and the stories of others, and celebrate our nation and its achievements. 

There are many things we can reflect on and celebrate, but why not start with these…

Australia is a nation of strong values that lay a foundation for our laws and a lot of our culture. Award winning historian and author Stuart Piggin, stated “Jesus is the great hero of Australian history. He has had more influence on Australia than anybody else in terms of Christian values like humility, compassion, hope ­– these are the things which really give Australians a positive attitude towards life rather than a negative attitude.” The preamble to the Australian constitution opens with the statement, “Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”. The first governor of Victoria, Charles Joseph La Trobe, was also a man of deep Christian convictions; he fought for equal rights for those he governed and advocated for building strong faith communities. “It is not by individual aggrandisement, by the possession of numerous flocks or herds, or by costly acres, that the people shall secure for the country enduring prosperity and happiness, but by the acquisition and maintenance of sound religious and moral institutions without which no country can become truly great.” Our values and beliefs are one of the things that makes our nation great and something to celebrate.

We remember the world’s oldest living culture. Australia’s first nations people have called this country home for tens of thousands of years. We celebrate indigenous heroes, like William Cooper. An aboriginal leader, political activist, and community leader who was the first to lead a national movement recognised by the Australian Government. Eddie Mabo, or Koiki became a prominent leader for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. He served on many boards and became the co-founder and director of the Townsville black community school — one of the first in Australia. There was also Barbara Jackson who was a strong advocate for Aboriginal rights during her lifetime. She was involved with a number of Aboriginal rights committees throughout her life, including the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship Council Inc and Training Centre for Work Release Prisoners. In the early 1970s, Barbara single-handedly started the Aboriginal Youth Training Centre. She did not live to see its growth or the positive impact the Centre had in the life of many young Aboriginal people, but her legacy for pursuing Aboriginal rights lives on in her family. Lets stand alongside one another today, remember the past, and find a way forward together. 

Have some fun reflecting on some of the contributions of Australians to the world. Through innovation, sports, the arts and even in the kitchen, Australia makes the world a better place. Some of the greatest inventions from the last century have come from the land down under. Hills Hoists, the black box, cancer vaccines, ultrasound scanners, pacemakers, the list goes on. Who could forget radio astronomer Dr. John O’Sullivan, who failed to develop a scanner for detecting exploding black holes, so he invented a little thing called Wi-fi. Australia has been a sporting nation from the beginning and some of our proudest moments have been on the pitch, the oval, the field, and even now on the slopes and the rink. Unforgettable moments, like Cathy Freeman running for gold and glory in the 400m, a hometown hero at the Sydney Olympic games, have forged sport into our national identity. 

If you’re looking for how to celebrate this wonderful day, check out our community calendar, to find some of the great events happening this Australia Day in Townsville.

Or, crank up the Akka dakka, John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, INXS, Midnight Oil, The Bee Gees, Jimmy Barnes, Savage Garden, and Paul Kelly, and remember how good Aussie music is. Throw some lamb on the barbie, heat up the meat pies, get the lamingtons ready and cover it all in chicken salt. Don your speedo, thongs and cork hats, play some backyard cricket and watch finding Nemo from a pool. But whatever you do, celebrate, because you live in a lucky country!

Footnotes:
http://www.cte.mq.edu.au/public/download.jsp?id=1138
https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cooper-william-5773
https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/eddie-koiki-mabo