Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home.
It is also an opportunity to reflect on our history; both its highs and lows and celebrate our nation for its achievements and most importantly the people who make our country what it is today.
In celebrating everything we have accomplished, Australia Day is also a reminder to everyone to listen and respect each other’s stories, contributions, and aspirations, which make up the rich fabric of our communities.
I recently met with a young migrant family who had moved to Wannon. They shared that they had moved to Australia because it provided them with ‘everything’ - they had more job opportunities, a safer environment to bring up their family, they had freedom of speech and they could live in a multicultural environment. Australia gave them a ‘better life'.
This young migrant family had articulated everything that makes Australia great - shared values of respect for freedom of the individual, democracy, commitment to the rule of law and equality for all individuals regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, fairness, respect and tolerance, and a fair go for all.
Stories like this remind us to celebrate our diversity and recognise it as part of our identity.
One of the best parts of Australia Day celebrations is welcoming new Australians into our community. This year across the country more than 16,000 people from over 150 nations will come together to become Australian citizens.
Those becoming Australian citizens today are making an ongoing commitment to this country and our unique way of life. Australian citizenship is an important common bond, underpinning a unified, cohesive, and inclusive Australia. It is also the beginning of their formal membership in this country. It is the step that will enable them to say, ‘I am Australian’ and I congratulate all those who are taking this important pledge today and welcome you.
Whether you are attending an Australian citizenship ceremony, attending a community event, or gathering with family and friends wherever you are today across this great nation - I ask you to celebrate everything that is great about being an Australian.
We are all Australians – one and free. All part of the one story of this great nation. Happy Australia Day, everyone