I arrived at the time of a public address recognising the Aboriginal indigenous land owners by the Premier of New South Wales. The Premier; Kristina Keneally, is a US born and educated woman who holds the highest seat of power in the state below the Queen’s representative. Seated behind her was the Queen’s representative herself, Marie Bashir, born in rural NSW to Lebanese-born parents who I perchance had the pleasure of dining with in her home town of Narrandera last year. This diverse presentation of Australia-ness in the highest seats of power was followed by a flotilla of immigrant representatives from Greece, Brazil, Indonesia and Taiwan - amongst others.
Seated alongside me were two women wearing burqa, one American and one Swedish tourist family and a number of Australian Chinese, this group collectively looking over their children playing in the public fountain. The beauty of this diversity, is that it is completely natural; that is to say, there is harmony and a simple ‘matter of factness’ about the Australian way of life. This highly valued diversity is not something unique to Australia, in fact only the week prior had America celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is a day to remember the most significant cultural shift in American history. A day when students in schools across the US are taught about diversity in all its beauty; ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, age, education, cultural background, physical ability.
So the question that really needs to be asked is that in this great country of Australia, where there is arguably greater diversity than the US, how has diversity education formally missed the system. Something as valuable, important and constantly in the zeitgeist as our very identity is considered to be assumed knowledge. There is truth in the adage that ‘culture is caught not taught’; but that does not mean its not to be carefully considered, highly valued and indeed celebrated.
It’s not solely the responsibility of the education department, parents, families or friends. I believe its the responsibility of all these to ensure the beauty of diversity which comes so easily remains highly prized and protected as it is surely the saving grace of our future.