Australia is a country that has been described as diverse, multicultural and unique. Our geography, flora and fauna and cultural history are different to anywhere else, which has definitely captured the attention of the rest of the world. Australian society has evolved in a very short space of time from the earliest convict settlements established in the mid 19thcentury, to the cosmopolitan states that currently exist and attract immigrants from all continents across the globe. Australia’s history has reflected conflict, human rights violations, economic growth and the hardship associated with establishing a refined society in a harsh and primitive landscape. Throughout the various stages of Australian history, Australians have attempted to grab onto an identity that makes them unique and able to bond with another fellow Australian. This has not always been easy, given the diversity that has grown over the centuries - the definition of the true Australian identity has changed over time.
One aspect of Australian Identity that is continually misrepresented to the rest of the world is the stereotypical image of the tanned, blonde, athletic, easy going, slow talking Aussie. It is true that our climate and geography enable Australians to spend leisure time at the beach or outdoors. It is also true that Australians tend to love sport. However, this Anglo Saxon image is far from what the average Australian looks like today. Due to the technological revolution and a lifestyle that includes an abundance of food, many Australians are actually overweight and the bronzed god image simply does not fit most people. The demographics of Australian society in general have also changed over time, as migrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East have moved the balance from a previously British dominated population. The face of your average Australian could be Asian or European or Anglo-Saxon but would most likely be a mix of a couple of cultures. Therefore, the aspect of appearance cannot be considered when looking for true Australian Identity. It may not be the original inhabitants of Australia, the dark skinned aboriginals, nor is it the stereotypical suntanned blonde or even a pale-skinned European – the true Australian Identity cannot be based on appearance and an image, as to be a true Australian, you could be a multicultural mix of many.
The true Australian identity is linked to opportunity and the hope of a better life. It would be too simplistic to claim that the true Australian identity could be defined effectively by examining the indigenous communities that existed prior to the British colonization of Australia. It would also be unrealistic to just focus on the British colonies that developed from convict settlements to towns that attracted free settlers seeking a better life from what Britain and Europe actually offered. Perhaps the only idea that we can retain from these early times is the concept of seeking a better life and this is a common aspect of Australian identity that resonates with all who have come to Australia. Those who came during the Gold Rush, the bushrangers who challenged authority and lived a life of crime, the Europeans who fled poverty or the evil of war – all held onto the idea that this country provided an opportunity for something better. This has been something that has been present hundreds of years ago and is still significant to people seeking a better life, illustrated through the many refugees who risk their lives attempting to come to Australia by boat every year. This is only one aspect of our identity, as courage to face challenge and take risks is a quality that many Australians value and respect.
Another aspect of identity that appears to be considered a characteristic of a true Australian is that of mate-ship. History again shows us that Australians are there for one another and will come to the assistance of each other in spite of potential danger to themselves. This selfless courage or generosity of spirit was seen in our soldiers during the wars, in the volunteers who have risked their lives to fight fires or rescue fellow countrymen from disasters; and in the various stories of heroism or sacrifice from ordinary people who showed Australia what more they were capable of. Australians will come to the assistance of fellow Australians when times are tough, demonstrated after the Black Saturday bushfires and during the Queensland floods. This mate-ship has been immortalized in literature and through the legacy of the ANZACs but we see it all the time, reflected through the media, particularly during times of adversity. Mate-ship is also associated with having a sense of humour and having someone to have a laugh with; and being a ‘mate’ to someone in a time of need is something that most Australians believe they identify with, which ties in with the Australian qualities of tolerance and acceptance.
Perhaps the most significant quality of our true National identity is our ability to accept others who are different to us. Australian has become a multicultural society and our identity has shifted from what it was in the past. Australians are used to the many cultures around them and most people have included aspects from different cultures or religions into their daily lives. We join in events like Chinese New Year, go to Italian Festivals, we enjoy eating kebabs and sushi and get invited to friend’s ceremonies that take place in different places of worship. We help celebrate milestones and dance to music that we may not always understand but we accept that any differences are just a part of who that other person is and it is our job to accept these things. Our ability to accept things that are new and different, as well as our ability to tolerate things that we may not want for ourselves but know to be important to someone else – these are definitely aspects of the true Australian identity.
Australia has traditionally been known as the ‘lucky country’ and this fortune does not just come from the resources our country contains or the opportunities that have been provided for all people who have come here in search of more. We are lucky because our identity is still evolving and we appear to be retaining the best aspects from history and adopting anything new that we feel improves our quality of life. The true Australian identity is a reflection of all that is good in everyone – it has a changeable expressive human face that seems to enjoy a laugh, with an ability to hope and contribute to a better future. It can about being be a mate who can accept difference and be there when times are tough. We should not be ashamed of our changing identity, as its diversity should be something that is truly remarkable and an example for the rest of the world.
Reflection for Hurdle Task 2 – The True Australian Identity
The form for this writing sample was an expository essay that attempted to explain what the true Australian identity is. As the topic of Australian identity often causes a great deal of debate in relation to issues about racial superiority and the negative consequences of historical events, I tried to explain aspects of the true Australian Identity that go beyond cultural association or stereotype. I attempted to identify aspects of identity that unite all of us in Australia, regardless of ethnicity or culture.
I began with the issue of image or appearance and attempted to dispel the notion of identity being associated with a specific ‘look’. I then selected to focus on three ideas that could be significant to all Australians and would not exclude anyone, even Australians from extremely diverse backgrounds. The three ideas I selected to define Australian identity were: opportunity, mate-ship and ability to accept, as all three are important to living in an environment of change and diversity. The concept of change through time features heavily in this essay and I have included many historical events to emphasise Australia’s progress in the pursuit of developing a better national identity that includes and values everyone – compared to past societies that may have excluded or marginalized specific groups.
This essay relates to the ideas presented in We Can Be Heroes because like the mockumentary, it explores the notion of what it means to be a true Australian. The essay acknowledges that there is no one face to represent a nation’s identity and that we value higher qualities when we decide on the merit of human beings. Like the characters in the series, Australian society is made up of people from a range of backgrounds that all bring something unique to Australian society. If we take away the comical stereotypes and the often selfish or ignorant motives of people, we are able to see qualities that unite us all and do provide a concept of a common National identity.
This expository essay aims to explain in a positive way how Australian Identity should be viewed by all people enjoying the benefits of living in this country. This piece would appeal to anyone currently living in Australian society. The intended message in this piece is that the true Australian identity must not be based on stereotype or another culture’s identity. The message in this essay relates to Australian identity being defined by qualities that remain significant through time. The piece acknowledges the issues from the past but attempts to focus on a more positive social future for all Australians. Despite difference and diversity, Australians can find commonality and appreciate the best in each other. The language seeks to reflect positivity without being idealistic.
As a fourth generation Australian, I have a good understanding of Australian history and the changes that have taken place through time. I have attempted to include historical language, as well as specific symbols of Australian culture in the discussion. The tone is informal and seeks to provide an informed explanation that is based on real events and impartiality. I have attempted to take a very humanist approach. My piece was aimed at appealing to people’s common sense and need to identify with others – which is what makes us all human.
Hurdle Task 3 - Are Australians Really Racist?
Racism exists in our society and causes unhappiness and conflict for many who are made to feel ashamed about their nationality. Good afternoon fellow students and teachers of Mill Park Secondary College, today I would like to talk to you about the ugliness in some Australians and discuss the question of whether or not Australians are really racist. Although it would be wrong to apply the same type of generalisations to all Australians, as they are similar to the racist generalisations that are made about other nationalities, I do believe that Australians can be really racist. Historical events, the mass media and current social attitudes towards people from other cultures all reflect how racism was and continues to be an ongoing threat to social harmony.
Current racist attitudes have been created and passed on through the generations, starting with how the innocent indigenous communities were treated when their land was invaded. This attitude of righteousness from white Australians was strengthened when racism was historically built into our constitution through policies such as the ‘Immigration Restriction Act’ and ‘White Australia Policy’. But that was the past, I hear you protest and yes I agree laws have changed and on the surface there is equality for all citizens of Australia; but let’s look at some simple truths. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report in 2005 about the situation of Indigenous people in Australia and there was considerable concern about the abolishment of organisations that represented indigenous people. Consequently, there were clear barriers in relation to indigenous people seeking claim to native title for land, fair legislation in relation to racial discrimination, as well as obvious inequities in the areas of health, education and employment. In a nutshell, things are still unfair for indigenous people in current Australian society and the problems are not being addressed by the Government. Are the indigenous people of Australia still disadvantaged in Australian society? Of course they are. Are white Australians represented by our politicians and law makers still holding the balance of power over these people? Yes they are. Racism is about discrimination and this still exists for these members of Australian society, but the indigenous people of Australia are not the only ones who have experienced racism in Australia.
There are frequently incidents of racism reflected in the media. News headlines regularly show conflict between cultures, which often result in violence requiring police intervention. Who can forget the Cronulla riots between large numbers of Australia and Middle Eastern youths? The hatred and unrestrained violence that each side showed to each other is surely an indication that racism is still present in our society and being passed on to our younger generation. Australia drew negative international attention when news headlines around the world revealed that Indian students were being attacked. Given the large number of Indian students studying in Australia and the increasing number of people moving to Australian from an Indian background, it is logical that there would be more incidents reported. However, the increased number of attacks on individuals from that particular cultural background would indicate that this was deliberate and targeted at a specific culture. It does not stop there either.
Television programs are frequently under scrutiny for presenters making derogatory racist comments or having a laugh at the expense of someone from another culture. People like Sam Newman from The Footy Show abuse their celebrity status and get cheap laughs by mocking other cultures or referring to them as monkeys. The sporting industry is also guilt of treating fellow athletes or team mates like second class citizens because they are not from an Anglo background and this is seen and accepted by the young fans who follow the sports. Their behaviour is made acceptable and the cycle of racism is normalised and becomes part of a culture. Oh yes we make excuses that our comments are only jokes or we claim that the person on the receiving end is not offended and laughs along, able to poke fun at their own culture but the truth is, laughing at another person’s appearance, beliefs or cultural aspects means we are ridiculing who they are. We all know it is a put down and can and does build resentment over time, particularly if the person being put down believes they are in a less fortunate situation than the person judging them. If you asked many different nationalities whether they believe they have been judged, mocked or disadvantaged by others, the answer would definitely be yes.
A majority of Australians are unsympathetic towards refugees and want the Government to keep them out at any cost. Public surveys reveal that a majority of Australians do not want people from certain countries coming into their country. They do not want processing centers in their towns and they definitely do not want groups of displaced people living in their communities. The recent television program Go Back from Where You Came From showed the inherent racism that exists in people until they are placed in the shoes of someone else. The majority of Australians are from various backgrounds from all around the world yet many feel they have more right to be living in this country than other people. They believe they should have greater advantage than someone else because they have been born into a more fortunate situation, than someone who has refugee status. This racism does not just extend to white Australians, as many different nationalities who call themselves Australians also do not want boatloads of refugees coming into Australia. Some may say we are simply protecting our way of life, those things we value; but for people seeking assistance and a chance for the same freedom and opportunities that Australians enjoy, they are denied these things on the basis of race. This can only be defined as racism.
We are all part of an education system that attempts to teach tolerance and acceptance of diversity and difference. Are Australians really racist? I think most people here know the answer to that; though their own experiences in the schoolyard and what they have experienced in their personal lives. Yes the laws have changed over time and yes the media reflects society’s stories of racism and brands it as unacceptable but attitudes can shift even further. We may never eradicate racism completely but we are a multicultural country that has accepted people from all over the world and generally enjoys peace and a high standard of living. Australians can sometimes be really racist but we can continue to learn about others so that we understand who they are and why they are the way they are, in the pursuit of a more peaceful future. I would like to leave you with a quote from Abraham J Heschel - Racism is man’s greatest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reasons.
Reflection for Hurdle Task 3 – Are Australians Really Racist?
This writing sample was presented as a written persuasive speech which was created for the purpose of presenting to an audience and positioning them to accept that Australians can be really racist but it is within their power to resist being influenced in this way and make a positive difference for the future. In this piece I attempted to remain objective and unbiased, basing all information on events in history or examples from everyday life. I also attempted to build my discussion up to provide a big social picture, rather than make generalisations that were specific and could be considered exceptions to the majority of people.
For my piece to be persuasive, I included many techniques, such as: using credible information from history, news headlines and documentaries; rhetorical questions, emotive and inclusive language; and various appeals to the reader’s sense of humanity, sympathy, guilt and pride. I tried to remind the audience about Australia’s racist history and provided many examples of racism in current society, so that the audience would be able to understand that this is an ongoing challenge for us all to overcome. I used a serious tone and wrote the piece in a very formal way. As it was an opinion piece and the purpose was to present it to an audience, I used personal and emotive language as I attempted to communicate directly to the listeners. I used ‘I’ to communicate my own personal beliefs and ‘we’ to include the audience to be part of a solution that requires a collaborative approach.
I included arguments that may have stood up against my main points and rebutted these to add strength to my contention and supporting arguments. I also repeated specific words or ideas to ensure that these stayed in the minds of the listeners. From the opening line, I intentionally tried to position the listener to feel sympathy for those who are racially discriminated against so that I established the purpose of this speech to be something to make people consider their own behaviour, so that they can make a positive difference for a better society. The concept of a better society is the basis for the series We Can Be Heroes which intends to focus on the reasons why people are selected as candidates for Australian of the year. The mockumentary makes a social comment about Australians and we do see examples of racism throughout the series, designed to make the viewer consider attitudes towards others. Jaime’s attitude towards her sponsored children and refugee friend, as well as Daniel’s naming his black dog after an African-American rapper, all emphasise Australian’s often politically incorrect habit of laughing at those in a less fortunate situation to our own.
The character of Ricky Wong is another connection to the subject matter explored in this persuasive piece. His character allows us to laugh at the stereotypical Asian, instantly exposing the very nature of racism. However, Ricky also represents the opposite to racism, an individual who embraces another culture and sees the opportunity in something new and different. He represents someone who is willing to defy the limitations imposed by previous generations and welcome the experiences offered in a new society. Ironically, Ricky embraces Aboriginal culture, symbolising that he identifies with this diversity. We are simultaneously persuaded to value Ricky’s enthusiasm for another culture and see the value in retaining the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people. The message in We Can Be Heroes reflects the racism in Australian society but positions the viewer to reject racism. This essay does the same, it explores what does exist but attempts to persuade the listener to resist being influenced by it.
Hurdle Task 1 - Narrative –Australia My Homeland…
When I was a small child, life in Balwyn was relatively simple. In the early 1970s our street still contained a couple of vacant blocks of land and one actually contained a gentle brown horse that my father would take me to visit regularly. Outer suburbia in those days consisted of walking to kindergarten or school or the shops and playing in your backyard, street or local park. Summers seemed to last longer and the sound of cicadas were a constant reminder of the healthy natural environment that still existed throughout the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Every Sunday my family would take a drive somewhere. Dad would usually vacuum out the station wagon, while we got ready and I prepared myself for the usually unpleasant drive to our selected destination. I always got car sickness and this inevitably affected my perception of the outing. We usually went to a beach location and St Kilda and Port Melbourne Piers were the closest, so we frequently went there. To this day, I still cannot eat jam donuts, as I associate the smell with spewing up which usually happened when we got to our outing destination – and this was usually when Dad found and parked next to a donut van. By late afternoon, I had usually recovered enough to enjoy the fish and chips we bought for dinner; and eating out in the fresh air on the beach, or in a seagull covered car with all the windows open, was something that I remember as enjoyable. Back then there were black swans or pelicans to be found along local coastal suburbs and we often shared some of our dinner with them, squealing when the swans got a little too enthusiastic and nipped our fingers.
We would sometimes visit Luna Park or travel down to the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong or Williamstown; occasionally visiting country locations but generally preferring the beach or somewhere to have a paddle. The smell of suntan lotion and aeroguard, tinged with the smell of BBQ meat and soft serve ice-cream are all reminders of Summer Sunday outings. We always went to Moomba festivals, the Royal Melbourne Show and as my mother collected antiques, always found a trash and treasure or market to visit. Sunday was the day we left suburbia and explored Victoria and each Sunday was different to the next, changing considerably as the seasons changed. There were the random trips to Alpine regions where snow created a sparking fantasyland that we insisted on investigating in spite of getting wet and extremely cold, or rainforest locations that were completely untouched by anyone and seemed to transcend time.
There were not a lot of children in the street where I grew up but I made friends with a girl called Natassa and we frequently went to each other’s houses or played in the street. Her parents were Greek and although really serious, did seem to approve of our friendship. This was probably because of my Dad who has always been able to talk the legs off a chair and would find something to discuss in detail with anyone who would listen to him. My Dad’s sister was married to a Greek, so I suppose he thought he had enough of a cultural connection to talk to them about anything and he definitely put their mastery of English to the test. Bill (my Dad) had an ancestral bloodline that could be traced to Germany, so he was fascinated with history and war and would usually focus conversations on the history of a person. He was originally from Perth and always wanted to go back but Mum had stopped him when the kids came along, as she believed her life was established here in Melbourne. Dad represents many Australians who have little affiliation with their cultural heritage, having been born in Australia after parents or grandparents migrated here during one of the world wars.
Although Dad would talk to anyone, he was usually judgmental of people from different cultures but he was equally critical of people from a stereotypically Australian background. His jokes could often be considered racist but his behaviour was paradoxical as he would talk to anyone and encouraged us to be friends with anyone – regardless of cultural background. This highly critical approach applied equally to everyone actually stuck with me as well and all friendships I have developed through life have been based on an appreciation of the qualities of the person and not culture or background. Nationality was rarely a criteria for friendship, but I did find different cultures fascinating and enjoyed participating in their celebrations. As for my own identity, I did not really feel connected to your stereotypical Australians, nor did I belong to any other specific nationality.
After being educated in local Government schools with children from a variety of cultures, I completed a couple of University degrees while working in nightclubs and bars. During this time, I went out with an Italian and later married a Lebanese Muslim. Although this relationship did not last, I do have a beautiful daughter who appears to have no cultural discrimination about friendships and loves the diversity of Australia as well. I have had a variety of careers in the public service, hospitality, banking and finance and education which have all enabled me to learn about people from a wide range of backgrounds. I remarried a man from a Greek background and have another daughter who is also a truly unique individual.
My family represents the diversity that exists in Australia: the mix of different cultures and the attitude of openness to people who are different. My daughters experience all the cultural variety that Melbourne offers. We take them to the same places that I enjoyed as a child and although things are different to what they were 40 years ago, I see there is sameness in what they are experiencing and how their values are being formed. They enjoy their yearly holiday interstate to the paradise found in Queensland or just enjoy going to the local swimming pools in Summer. They have the opportunity to be part of activity clubs, such as: dancing, swimming and soccer, participating with children from backgrounds from all around the world.
My house faces the city of Melbourne and I can see the tall buildings from my front windows. It is a house that was built in 1926 during the Great Depression when people did not have much but did have hope for a better future and greater opportunity. We had to do an extension on this house to accommodate the life that we have built. Australia, my homeland is like my house. It has expanded over time, retaining some of its original features but adding new ones to accommodate these new inhabitants. Australia, my homeland contains people from all different backgrounds who have made a life for themselves and their families. Australia is a place where they can retain their ethnicity, their language, their beliefs and traditions. These families are like my family, enjoying all that this country offers and trying to pass on the very best of it to the new generation.
Reflection for Hurdle Task 1 –Australia, My Homeland…
I chose to create a narrative written in first person that reads like a monologue. This form allowed me to create a short autobiographical account of my life and address the prompt at the same time through my own experiences. By using the framework of a story of my life, I was able to include ideas from the mockumentary We Can Be Heroes about the concept of Australian Identity. I attempted to show the difference between past and present while pointing out the ideas that get passed down through the generations that we all value as part of our social heritage.
I used imagery and symbols of places and events in Melbourne from forty years ago to present day society, as well focus specifically on the real life character of my father to enable the reader to understand were my values had come from. I attempted to use my own family and personal experiences as an analogy to Australian society, in terms of cultural diversity and adaptation to change. I attempted to show that our experiences tend to shape our attitudes and that family can significantly influence our attitudes and values.
The narrative is reasonably descriptive and includes sensory language to create an experience for the reader but incorporates philosophical reflection about change and Australian society. Its purpose is to reflect social change, inform the audience about the author’s life and experiences and create a positive response to the prompt Australia, My Homeland… I have used a mature adult ‘voice’ for the narration, as I am now in my forties and the events are being told from this perspective.
Like the studied text We Can Be Heroes, this narrative reflects aspects of Australian society and explores the notion of identity. Both texts reveal Australian society’s search for a real identity and provide the reader or viewer with ideas that they can relate to. Many of the iconic places or events in my narrative would be familiar to someone living in Melbourne. The piece would specifically appeal to people of my age who can remember what life was like back then or it may also appeal to a younger audience who are interested in how society has changed but still retains certain ideas that all generations value.
I attempted to synthesise the beauty and diversity of the Australian landscape and climate, with experiential details about the quality of our life in Australia, as well as compare how society has changed but in some ways stayed the same. I used the cultural differences in my own family to show the multicultural nature of Australia.