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Australia Day: For we are one and free

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Jason Cordi
Jason Cordi
Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

The new year brings hope and optimism that we will see the end of the pandemic later in the year. As Australia continues to diffuse any outbreaks of coronavirus, we must continue to live and work in a COVID-safe environment. 

While other countries battle surging numbers of the virus, Australia has become the envy of the world. There is much to celebrate about living in Australia in 2021. 

We are known to have some of the strongest approaches to addressing the pandemic on our shores, implementing rules, world class contact tracing methods and hotel quarantine programs. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, the Australian government continues to make decisions and focus on matters which helps us celebrate our diversity. The Australia Day theme for 2021 is ‘Reflect, Respect, Celebrate’, which acknowledges the different stories which make up our modern, contemporary country. It is a day to reflect about who we are as Australians, and how we as individuals contribute our stories to Australia’s history and achievements.

As a public holiday, the most common way to celebrate is to gather with some friends and family, usually involving a barbecue in the backyard or park. This year, there two major events on 26 January to look forward to.

In Victoria, The Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc (FCCVI) has organised an action packed event at the Filipino Hub in Brooklyn. 5Bs Humanitarian likewise welcomes you to a gathering at Happy Reception in Tottenham.

Register to attend the FCCVI Australia Day Festival by sending an email to centre.manager@fccvi.org.au

Both of the events have been approved and supported by the National Australia Day Council and granted funding to provide free stalls and food to attendees.

In previous years, Australia Day was celebrated in the city with a multicultural parade down the street of St Kilda Road. Due to the pandemic however, this large public gathering has unfortunately been cancelled. 

The day is also a difficult reminder for many Indigenous Australians, as it is seen as the date of the beginning of a dark history of violence, abuse, separation and destruction of culture in their people. Thousands of people would usually march in various capital cities in Australia, waving banners with words such as “pay the rent”. The date has increasingly become a day which divides the nation.

As protests continue to be banned in Victoria since the Black Lives Matter protests in June last year, the Melbourne City Council has organised an ‘Invasion Day’ dawn service at Kings Domain on Australia Day.

On 1 January this year, in another step forward to promote unity and inclusivity and to respect our rich diversity in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a change to the Australian national anthem. The second line of Advance Australia Fair has changed from ‘For we are young and free’ to ‘For we are one and free.”

The Prime Minister made the following remarks in relation to this well-received change: “In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation.

“During the past year we have showed once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation. It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem,” the Prime Minister said.

“Also, while Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect.

“We are making our own Australian way through this crisis, a way guided by our enduring principles and values and together, we have done so better than almost any other country in the world. Our unity has been critical to this achievement. ‘One and free’ is and must be the story of every Australian.”

The Prime Minister has said that the past year had highlighted the strength of all Australians in staying together and supporting each other. The Filipino-Australian community has indeed persevered together, demonstrating unity to support those who need help. It is through respect for one another that the community may celebrate its diversity, reflect, and celebrate the true spirit of being ‘one and free’.

– Editorial |The Philippine Times, January 2021 Edition

Jason Cordi
Jason Cordi
Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

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