25 January 2007


Considerable discussion has taken place over the past twelve months about "Australian values" and what it means to be Australian.

Australia Day (Jan 26th) is meant to be an occasion of national pride when we celebrate the many positive features of Australian life, especially the freedom we enjoy and spirit of harmony, generosity and goodwill towards others which generally characterises life here.

Perhaps Australia Day can also be an occasion to look beyond these characteristics in which we rightly take pride, perhaps it can be more than just an occasion for flag-waving and basking in sporting success. Perhaps we can also look honestly at the darker side of our society, ask ourselves what kind of Australia we want in the future and ask what we intend to do to help bring that about.

Concerns about the misuse of the national flag to incite racial hatred and violence at the Big Day Out concerts are a reminder that a strand of racism has always been present in our country. Recent public comments by community leaders implying Sudanese, Muslims or Aboriginals are largely responsible for violent behaviour in our community can be seen as manifestations of this.

In a society where groups of people are excluded, marginalized, dispossessed and denied economic and educational opportunity it is not surprising that substance abuse, family dysfunction and disintegration and violence will follow.

It is to be hoped that 2007 will be a year when Australia can make real progress towards becoming a nation in which all of its people are treated with dignity, where rights are respected, where all can share in its prosperity and where a new respect and sense of care for the earth can be discovered.

It is hoped that in a small way this bulletin can assist in that goal.

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