MIGRATION: A migrant family enters their new home at Maribyrnong, Victoria, 1965.
MIGRATION: A migrant family enters their new home at Maribyrnong, Victoria, 1965.

Why Aussies with an accent are careful expressing opinions

THIS weekend, local group Remembering and Healing will be holding a panel discussion identity titled How do we define ourselves as Australians? I am, You are... We are Australians?

Organisers have said the idea for this panel came out of "thought-provoking contributions" at the group's Anzac Day gathering.

My first reaction this the invite was, 'there is no way I'm getting involved in this', which surprised me.

I asked myself, 'Self, why do you say that?'

I find that new migrants are busy adjusting to their new Australian life and avoid standing out of the mass.

Ever since I migrated to Australia in 2000, I have always been grateful for the chance to live here.

I came here by plane (in case you were wondering) - Qantas, to be precise - after my Australian partner of four years decided to come back to the country and bring me as a souvenir of his South American trip.

I received my citizenship certificate from former PM Malcolm Turnbull, who was my local member of parliament back then, in 2005.

I have lived in Sydney, Perth and the Northern Rivers, I have paid my taxes and participated in public life when required.

But then, I feel like there is this tacit idea that new Australians like me, particularly from poorer countries, are not allowed to voice our opinions when we think the country could do better in certain areas.

The fact that the current US President is telling four members of the US Congress to love the US or leave because they have diverse ethnic backgrounds is the most clear example of this issue, one that I see here frequently.

How do I define myself as Australian? Because although I normally don't believe in nationalism, my heart belongs to this country, my children are growing up here, and because of that my future is most probably here too.

I would like to make a call to new Australians like me living on the Northern Rivers to attend and participate in this event, because that's just the way Australia became the great nation that it is today: by a diverse group of people offering ideas, participating in public life, sometimes disagreeing but more often than not, finding a common way to do things.

All ways of life, all cultures, all ethnic backgrounds, all sub-cultures, all need to be part of public life and they must feel safe to do so.

Our voices are important too, but we must bring them forward so they count.

  • At the Lismore Regional Gallery, 11 Rural St, Lismore, this Saturday, July 27, from 11am. Followed by refreshments. Suggested donation: $5.

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