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"Dear Australia, Thank you." An open letter to Aussies' on Australia day

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Dear Australia, Thank you.

As the son of an immigrant family, a first generation Aussie whose siblings were all born overseas, I have been constantly reminded that this is the lucky country.

My dad talked about the life he left behind, caged in shoe-box apartments, woken by neighbours through paper thin walls.  His notion of fresh air was three feet of balcony—because he couldn’t afford a place with a yard.

But I grew up with green and gold.

My childhood was spent rolling on grass and climbing purple blossoming jacarandas, my weekends were white sandy beaches, laughter in sea foam, and bulging eyes fixed on the bronzed bodies around me.  I never worried about fog, and snow, and sleet.  My only burden was careless sunburns.

Each day I wake to an Australian tapestry, woven together with a sea of green gum trees, clear blue skies and baked red earth.  My music is the sound of lorikeets, king parrots, magpies, cockatoos and butcher birds.  The only neighbours I hate are the bloody goannas who try to eat my chook eggs.  I don’t have a balcony—but I do have 10 acres of bushland on a mountainside that I call home.

Lucky?  If you’re not Australian, you don’t even know the meaning of the word.

Unfortunately not everyone who lives here understands that.  Instead of feeling privileged, some feel entitled because they were born here, because they are Australian ‘natives’.  To those people I say this…

You don’t look very Aboriginal to me.

If you’re using Australia Day to take issue with someone’s heritage you might wish to remember that we are all immigrants, if not you personally, then your ancestors. If you have a problem with someone’s skin tone, remember, Australia’s native colour is brown, not white.  If you have a problem with someone’s faith, I don’t recall seeing you at the last discussion of The Dreamtime.

But please don’t confuse my message—I’m not saying if you’re not Aboriginal you’re not Australian,  I’m saying that almost every person in this country first and foremost made the personal choice to be Australian.  Which is why I’d also like say if you’re new to Australia—

Please, be Australian.

Australia has its own identity and if you’d like to be here we’d like you to share it.

It is time for Australia to be multi-ethnic, not multi-cultural.  What that means is we acknowledge that this amazing group of people comes from the seed of many nations, but that we have joined together to form a new cultural identity.  No matter how long you have been in this land, please, celebrate your heritage, be proud of the people who came before you and their achievements—then put Australia first.

I celebrate Oktoberfest, Chinese New year, and St Paddy’s day—but I am always, first and foremost, Australian.

If you don’t want to assimilate, if you don’t want to learn the language, if you don’t want to adopt the culture, if you want to look down your nose at the Australian people—I have good news!  We live in a free country, which means you have the right and freedom to change your mind about being an Australian, and leave.  My father was born in East Germany, my girlfriend’s family grew up in Communist Poland—being allowed to leave a nation you don’t want to be a part of is not a privilege everyone experiences easily.

Fortunately that’s not an issue I need to worry about because I live in a lucky country, this is my home.  This is Australia.  I welcome you to be one of us.

Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Australians.

Little Dan, the first in a new generation of Aussie's

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