Australia Day - Not Just About BBQs

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23 January 2020
by Bill Appleby, CEO

Jewish Care has four organisational values - Derech eretz (Respect), Kehilla (Community), Hachlala (Inclusion), and Achrayoot chevratit (Social responsibility) – that guide us in how we think about the community we serve.  These values have a strong influence on the work we do, and also play a role in how we conduct ourselves outside of this work.  As we approach January 26th, I am reminded of these values and how they may strengthen our community.

This Australia Day, if you have not done so before, consider what the day means to you, and more importantly what it might mean to others. This date in history certainly has different meanings for different people, but we can all agree that it is a day for recognising, respecting, and including every Australian, no matter where their own stories began. For many, it is a day to come together to revel in the values that we all share as the Australian community, and to consider what connects us all and not what divides us, for others it is a day of mourning, sorrow, and survival.  

Reflecting on the meaning of this day is asking us to consider the question: what does it mean to be Australian? Is it being Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander – custodians of this land for more than 65,000 years; is it those who have lived here for generations – their ancestors settling on this land less than 250 years ago; is it those who have come from all corners of the globe to call this country home – having only just arrived in more recent years; or, of course, is it all of those?

Amongst the flurry of wild debate that circulates around this day, it is important that all Australians participate in a way that is right for them and in doing so respect other’s differing views. Today, and every other, we should consider what connects us all not what divides us and to recognise the contributions of all Australians across time and those into the future.

Australia Day is not just about barbeques, celebrations, and joyful gatherings - and so whether you are spending the day quietly with friends and family or attending one of the large public events held in your community, be sure to give time to pause and reflect on what the day means for each and every Australian.  

Nakkiah Lui, a Gamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander playwright, said “Most people just want a day to celebrate the place that they call home, to be part of a community, and to guide Australia into the future. I am one of these people.”

We also hold this sentiment and will continue to embrace all opportunities that bring Australians together in harmony and in the spirit of a shared future. We hope you share this too.