Celebrating Australia Day 2022

January 23, 2022

Australia Day means different things to different people, but this year, Australians are being invited to take part in our national day through the lens of the theme: ‘Respect. Reflect. Celebrate’.

That theme sits perfectly with Judy, a Human Resources Business Partner at CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay. Judy was born and raised in Australia, but says Australia Day wasn’t a big part of her childhood.

“As a kid it wasn’t a big thing,” she says. “The Queen’s Birthday holiday was probably a bigger deal, with fireworks and bonfires.” She says Australia’s Bicentennial Celebrations in 1988 sparked a more widespread observation of the day throughout the nation. “Being Australian for me is being part of a nation that is eons old but also relatively new in many ways. It’s being part of a place that is vibrant and diverse. We celebrate the oldest culture in the world to the newest arrivals of migrants and people are still coming from all over the world,” she says. “I grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, so a lot of my friends were from other cultures. Australia Day has always been a celebration of that.

I love the uniqueness of this country and I think more than ever, Australia Day is a day to celebrate that diversity and those differences.” Looking to the future, Judy says she would love to see Australia “bring a bit of its larrikin back. I think we’ve lost a bit of that, but we have a real opportunity to continue that positivity that we’re known for, that ability to see the bright side, even in adversity, to see the positives in diversity.”

Yvette, who is a Quality and Compliance Business Officer for CatholicCare was born in Pakistan and moved to Australia as an adult. Having earned a double MBA in Pakistan and forged a distinguished professional career, including a senior position at the World Bank, Yvette says she experienced lots of discrimination for being a female. “I grew up in times that were quite difficult to be a woman,” she says. “Under the Islamic laws, a lot of women were being jailed and it was very challenging.” Yvette travelled a lot in her job, to the US and Canada, but when she thought of emigrating it was Australia that won the day. “I always found Australia to be more laid-back than the rat-race of other places. The climate is also very good, there’s no shovelling snow. And my grandmother came to Australia in the 1970s and found the people so welcoming and nice.” Yvette first came to Australia in 1993 and then arrived permanently in 1996 and has since become a citizen. “I so much wanted to become an Australian citizen on Australia Day, but we couldn’t organise it, so for me it was February 26 instead. I was very teary at my citizenship ceremony. To feel that I belong somewhere without the discrimination of being female, in such a wonderful multicultural society where we weren’t made to feel like second class citizens; a place of democracy and freedom. All those things came together for me at my citizenship ceremony.”

Yvette says in past years Australia Day has always been celebrated among her neighbours. “We would often bring out the barbie,” she says. “In other years though I’ve dragged my husband to the harbour. For me, Australia Day is a day of gratitude. I always tell my daughter how blessed she is be here. I want Australia to carry on the way it is doing. People are very generous here by and large, there is a welcoming spirit which I hope continues.”

Patrick, who works in IT at CatholicCare, spent his childhood moving around country Australia with his five siblings before settling in Sydney. “My Dad was a pharmacist who moved around for his work, so we were all born in different towns,” he laughs. He says his background has given him an appreciation for the Australian spirit. “Australians are unique people in their own way,” he says. “You only need to look at the responses to bushfires and natural disasters, the way people pitch in unsolicited and help people. “On the other hand, though, we do have the tall poppy syndrome. It’s like, we’re all in this together but you can’t be better than anyone else. But overall, we are a culture and a character that rewards hard work and good work.”

Australia Day for Patrick and his family has usually been about heading up the coast and celebrating the day on the water with “classic Aussie food and clothes. We’ll get into the seafood and usually there’s been a competition to get the biggest floating thing we can find out on the lake. It’s a good fun day. I think we all realise now, more than in the past that the day takes on a different complexion when we consider the First Australians situation and that is a part of it all.” Patrick hopes that in the future Australia will continue to value what makes it great. “We very rarely acknowledge the good that happens and that’s one of the really good things about Australia Day, with the Australia Day Awards,” he says. “We live in one of the best countries on earth, but we don’t always acknowledge that fact. I hope that as we move forward, we’ll acknowledge people who do good things, and we’ll value people’s contribution to our communities.”

Check with your local council to find Australia Day activities in the different localities within the Diocese of Broken Bay or visit the NSW Government’s Australia Day site for official activities in Sydney.

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