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Can our differences on Australia Day help bring us together?

Tuesday 26 January 2021 – a day that divides a nation. Where do you stand on our national day? Do you celebrate with pride, or shun due to the…

Tuesday 26 January 2021 – a day that divides a nation.

Where do you stand on our national day? Do you celebrate with pride, or shun due to the date’s association with our colonial past? Or do you just enjoy the public holiday to kick off a new year, and try to avoid the background noise?

In this post I am not attempting to unpack the arguments behind Australia Day and the date on which it is held, though maybe I should someday. (Check out the link below for a little additional reading.) If you do want to talk it over, then let’s sit down for a coffee.

The reason I am writing is because I believe that it is possible to retain friendship with fellow Aussies, even if we disagree.

Australia Day is as good an opportunity as any to actually work out how we can come together, as fellow Australians, to rediscover the skills of giving and receiving dignity, respect and a good-old-fashioned “fair go”.

The fact is that each of the different perspectives are all right.

  • This is a remarkable, prosperous and beautiful country and we have so much to be thankful for – true!
  • This continent was the home of the First Australian peoples for thousands of years, before colonisation and the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships on 26 January 1788 in New South Wales – true!
  • The day is a public holiday at the very end of the long Summer break, and right before most schools commence for the academic year – true!

This is of course oversimplified, but depending on our own personal life journey, many of us have come to stand on our view as THE truth, which means we will often see those who disagree as wrong. We gather with our own kind, who reinforce our view of the truth, and refine our arguments against the other.

This pattern happens on so many important issues, leaving modern society highly and emotively divided. This is a huge problem, but I believe we can do something about it.

Do you mind if I propose a couple of steps we can take to overcome these chasms in the social discourse, and become agents of soothing change, both for ourselves and for our whole country?

1. Articulate what Australia Day means to you – each of us have a unique and special story. Some of us have an ancient connection to this country, while the vast majority of us have cultural stories that originate from lands beyond these shores. But if you now call Australia home, what do you love about the place? Look for the positives, talk to others and post on your social media feeds these best things. Explore and articulate what makes you feel thankful that we have a day to celebrate Australia.

2. Listen to different perspectives – the reality is that most of us are surrounded by our own kind, who share our own views of Australia Day. I admit this next step might be a challenge but take the initiative to seek out and listen to the views of those you do not agree with. Remember they may not be right as you see things, but their views are entirely valid. The best way to do this is to ask others questions about what they love about Australia, and what their views on the day are. And be sure to listen, and not launch into an argument why they are wrong. This step will be hard when you first do it, but it actually becomes therapeutic and enlightening the more you practice it.

3. If you do, protest with compassion – protest, or at the very least promoting your perspective, is not only healthy for you but it is vital for a strong society. But do this after acting on steps 1 and 2 above, and so recognising that those with differing views are fellow Australians who love this country and who do not like being yelled at (coz, you know, none of us do!) Who knows, if you take time to listen to their views and treat them with compassion, they may even hear what you are saying and come to your way of seeing things?

4. And in the end, mark the day – finally I have come to the opinion that despite the division and conflict, that it is actually really important that we do mark the day, somehow. You may have an impassable problem with 26 January, so you may choose to celebrate Australia Day on another date (like 8 May … or May 8 … or “mate”!), but no matter what you do, do gather with fellow countrymen and women, who hold views like your own as well as different views, and raise a glass to the things that Australia Day means to you!

We are an imperfect nation and people, but we can be a nation and people who enjoy peace and hope and who can learn to work together for an even better future, for all of us!

If you would like to read more check out these links:
Home ‐ Australia Day (https://australiaday.org.au)
Australia Day | What Is Australian Day | History Of Invasion Day (https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/australia-day/)
Australia Day Grace – Ethos (http://www.ethos.org.au/online-resources/Engage-Mail/australia-day-grace)

 

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.  

 

Posted: 25/01/2021

You helped these boys become overcomers

If we asked most camp leaders to identify ‘that one kid’ on camp who was a little more challenging than the rest, they’d come to mind almost instantly. Young…

If we asked most camp leaders to identify ‘that one kid’ on camp who was a little more challenging than the rest, they’d come to mind almost instantly.

Young people who anger easily and struggle to control their behavior can have a huge impact on the pace and feel of a camp. But the truth is, they can feel isolated and alone.

Don Truss’s heart for these at-risk youth spurred him to assemble a team of leaders to launch Overcomers Camp. The camp, which ran for the first time in the 2019 June/July school holidays, hosted 17 boys from South and Central Queensland schools.

The boys came from a diverse range of backgrounds. Some had a parent in trouble with the law or came from broken homes, while others had experienced alcoholism or substance abuse first-hand – or even a combination of all. The camp focused on loving and supporting these young people through a week of fun, yet sometimes messy activities.

“I guess the heart behind it is to support boys who are going through major challenges internally and don’t know how to express it without acting out or getting angry,” Don says.

“A bunch came off suspensions at school – when they feel threatened they often answer with their fists, which gets them into trouble. The week gave us a great chance to speak into that space, showing God’s love and giving them alternatives to the physical responses they often default to.”

The camp was themed around military history – focusing on how character and mateship are crucial for any good soldier.

“On the first day, we ran team challenges where the boys and leaders had to get everyone through obstacles in thick mud,” Don recalls.

“One of the rules was to get through together – no man left behind – so we got sent back to the start a lot of times!

“But in the end, they got through it together and the feeling of success as a group was such a powerful way to start camp.”

On top of the mud-based activities the boys conquered a range of obstacle courses, had flour bomb fights, explored tunnels together and ended the week zipping around in dirt buggies.

12-year-old camper Eli had a great time on camp.

“My favourite part was going through the mud,” Eli recalls.

“I think it’s important to have fun in life – this camp was heaps of fun and much more.

“I’d love to come again, and I’ll make sure I bring more of my mates with me!”

Overcomers Camp introduces 17 at-risk campers to aspects of leadership, responsibility, self-control, respect, forgiveness and mateship.

Thanks to your support, at-risk teens in regional communities are growing through tough circumstances at camps like Overcomers. Keep this vital support going – visit suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 7/11/2019

You’re planting seeds through SU-Schoolies

With tens-of-thousands of high schoolers about to graduate, there’s a growing number who are picking safe schoolies alternatives to the more precarious party­culture on the Gold Coast. SU QLD has…

With tens-of-thousands of high schoolers about to graduate, there’s a growing number who are picking safe schoolies alternatives to the more precarious party­culture on the Gold Coast.

SU QLD has been running SU-Schoolies for 39 years, currently offering events in Hawaii, Whitsundays, Sunny Coast and Fraser Island.

Each location provides an action-packed week of fun activities in a drug and alcohol-free environment.

When Goondiwindi teen Kirah first heard about SU-Schoolies on the Sunshine Coast, she wasn’t sure if it was for her. But after finding out some more information from her school chaplain, Sonia, she took the plunge.

“When we arrived there was a lot of people – at first I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone, but then some leaders and other schoolies came up to me and introduced themselves.

“It didn’t take me long to feel comfortable, and from that point on it was awesome,” she recalls.

Kirah says she loved activities like ice skating and aqua fun park, but most of all she enjoyed the ‘Pluggers’ spiritual input program held each night of the week.

“Once I was at pluggers I didn’t want to leave at the end,” Kirah says.

“It helped me a lot – just being able to reflect and have time to think about some of the big questions in life.”

Andrew Beavers has been directing SU-Schoolies Sunny Coast for 10 years. In that time he’s seen thousands of lives impacted and empowered through the event.

“It’s so inspiring to see how God works through SU-Schoolies in different ways each year,” Andrew says.

“We want to help young people celebrate this important milestone in their lives in a fun, safe environment. After 12 years of school, they deserve it!”

For Kirah, schoolies had a lasting impact that she hopes leads into her future.

“I’m thinking of coming back again as a leader,” Kirah says.

“You meet a lot of cool people and have such a great time – it’s an awesome week.”

SU-Schoolies offers four incredible trips to Hawaii, Whitsundays, Sunny Coast and Fraser Island.

SU-Schoolies registrations are open until late October – spaces are limited! If you know someone graduating this-or-next-year, bookings are open for 2019 and 2020.

Head to this link to find out more and register: su-schoolies.com

Posted: 15/10/2019

You’re breaking the cycle for at-risk Queenslanders

The A2B program is held on the land of the Darumbal, Wadja Wadja and Gungulu people. Indigenous students at Woorabinda State School in Central Queensland have been negotiating a…

The A2B program is held on the land of the Darumbal, Wadja Wadja and Gungulu people.

Indigenous students at Woorabinda State School in Central Queensland have been negotiating a “Bro Code” as part of SU QLD’s A2B program, supported by TEAR Australia.

The 16-week A2B program for at-risk youth aims to break negative habits and behavioural cycles by helping young people critically evaluate their experiences in school and in the community.

(more…)

Posted: 16/07/2018

Cheyenne

You helped Cheyenne graduate

On the verge of dropping out of school amidst an unstable home life and issues in the schoolyard, Cheyenne found the strength to motivate herself – thanks to help…

Cheyenne

On the verge of dropping out of school amidst an unstable home life and issues in the schoolyard, Cheyenne found the strength to motivate herself – thanks to help from her chappies.

Growing up on Stradbroke Island, Cheyenne struggled to make friends, found schoolwork difficult, and rarely felt loved or accepted. There were periods where she struggled to make it through each day. (more…)

Posted: 31/01/2018

You brought change to Woorabinda

Self-esteem, optimism and hope were once foreign words in the remote Indigenous school community of Woorabinda. That was two years ago… Today, the community is a centre for encouragement,…

Self-esteem, optimism and hope were once foreign words in the remote Indigenous school community of Woorabinda. That was two years ago…

Today, the community is a centre for encouragement, support and love, where hope, optimism and self-esteem abound, thanks to its school chaplain.

Second-year chaplain, Rachel Walmsley, says the transformation in the school has given her immense satisfaction and demonstrates the power of love and compassion over anger and despair. (more…)

Posted: 18/05/2017

You propelled Clinton to new heights

The small town of Blackwater in Queensland’s Central Highlands may be known for coal mining, but a local school chaplain is uncovering some real hidden gems too! These gems…

The small town of Blackwater in Queensland’s Central Highlands may be known for coal mining, but a local school chaplain is uncovering some real hidden gems too!

These gems include a shy, skinny outsider, who is now a basketball prodigy, plus scores of directionless young boys and girls, who are now young men and women with hope for a brighter future.

For the past four years, Chappy Anita’s basketball program at Blackwater State High has been giving local youth hope and confidence to achieve successes they never thought possible. (more…)

Posted: 18/05/2017

Your support made their journey to manhood possible

How long is the road from boyhood to manhood? According to 13 Year 8 boys from Cooktown, it’s a highly challenging 222 kilometres. While the boys may not officially…

How long is the road from boyhood to manhood?

According to 13 Year 8 boys from Cooktown, it’s a highly challenging 222 kilometres.

While the boys may not officially be men yet, each of them has gained new life skills and a heightened sense of responsibility after completing local school chaplain Dave Kamholtz’ ‘Journey to Manhood’ mountain biking challenge.

“This has been an epic trip. Each day was a genuine challenge, but the boys’ persistence and commitment was deeply rewarded with memories and character development that will last a lifetime,” says Chappy Dave.

Local adventurer and businessman Ray Wright and a dedicated team of volunteer dads and grandfathers from the local community joined with Chappy Dave and the 13 boys to navigate the ‘treacherous’ Wakooka trail in Far North Queensland. (more…)

Posted: 20/03/2017

Banaam Indigenous Program – Connecting With Culture

We are excited to tell you about a new relationship that has been established with Banaam. Banaam is an organisation that exists to empower all Australians through cultural intelligence….

We are excited to tell you about a new relationship that has been established with Banaam.

Banaam is an organisation that exists to empower all Australians through cultural intelligence. They do this through leadership, personal and professional development, and cultural education.

(more…)

Posted: 17/06/2016

Can you bring this Indigenous program to life?

There’s an exciting new opportunity for Indigenous youth, and you have an opportunity to make it possible! With your help, we’ve been planning ways to better serve Indigenous young…

There’s an exciting new opportunity for Indigenous youth, and you have an opportunity to make it possible!

With your help, we’ve been planning ways to better serve Indigenous young people… and that’s how the idea for an at-risk program, specifically for Indigenous youth, was birthed.

(more…)

Posted: 14/07/2015

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