Communities across NSW are being encouraged to band together on Australia Day 2019 to celebrate the importance of diversity and for everyone to share their own unique story of what it means to be Australian.
Australia Day Council of NSW Creative Director John Foreman said the theme for the event on January 26 next year is Everyone, every story.
“In Australia, we all have a story. From our origins around the globe or as First Australians, to the future we hope to build. The freedoms we hold, the communities we build and the passions we enjoy – they are our Australian stories,” Mr Foreman said.
“No matter where we come from, we are all here together. Australia Day is a great opportunity to come together to express your story and discover someone else’s too. These different stories are woven together to shape our great home, Australia.”
Here are some of the stories we want to share:
For retired NRL player, brain cancer awareness campaigner and 2019 NSW Australian of the Year nominee Mark Hughes, being Australian is about not giving up, lending a hand and chipping in to help when things are down.
“Since forming the Mark Hughes Foundation I have witnessed first-hand the fighting spirit of Australians suffering from Brain cancer. I see people with the support of family and friends fighting right to the very end,” Mr Hughes said.
“Likewise I see the greatness in Australians. So many giving people wanting to help our cause. To do whatever they can to help us find answers to this disease.”
Media personality and Australia Day Ambassador of 21 years Susie Elelman AM said being Australian means everything to her.
“My parents and eldest brother came to Australia as refugees in 1950 from war-torn Europe. Dad was Polish and a holocaust survivor and Mum was buried alive and unconscious for three months when a bomb hit her home in Germany,” she said.
“Australia gave them a safe haven and a new life. My other brother and I were born here and I'm very grateful there are so many wonderful opportunities available to allow every Aussie to succeed.”
Sixteen-year-old scientist and inventor Angelina Arora, who developed a degradable bioplastic made from prawn shells, says the unanimous support, encouragement and the love showered upon her by fellow Aussies sums up what it is to be Australian.
“With my invention they haven’t seen my age as a barrier or my gender as an obstacle but have celebrated my achievements with a cheerful loud voice,” said Angelina, who was a 2019 NSW Young Australian of the Year nominee.
“It is the common spirit of belonging, caring and sharing is what makes this country of ours one of the best in the world. This encourages me to do even more for this beautiful country of ours.”
Twenty-year-old skateboarding champion and 2019 Australia Day Ambassador Amar Hadid says being Australian means uniting many cultural backgrounds.
“As a child I heard other kids at school quarrelling about their identity, saying ‘I am Greek’ or ‘I am Chinese’. It was natural for me to think ‘I am Lebanese’,” she said.
“My father heard me and my siblings having that discussion, he sat us down and said, ‘there is no struggle or even an option, you are Australian with Lebanese heritage’. From that point forward, I learnt that the truth is we are all Australians with different stories and different heritages.”
Mr Foreman has urged everyone to get involved in celebrating Australia Day on Saturday, January 26.
“There are thousands of ways to mark Australia Day in your own way and create your own story – by attending the fantastic events around Sydney Harbour and across our cities and towns, in your own back yard, or join the online conversation on all things Australia Day.”