We’re relative newcomers to Australia having only been here 15 years or so, but ‘new’ or not we *feel* Australian, which is really strange when you think just how*huge* this country is.
What brought it into perspective was the concern we feel here in Sydney for our fellows down South in Victoria where they are suffering appalling levels of death and destruction, bearing in mind we are not at war on our homeland, though the firestorms still raging through the bush.
Much of the damage has been outside Melbourne, which is nearly 900 kilometres from us. This is much the same distance as London to Berlin. Yet, much as people in the UK might sympathise with the Germans had a similar tragedy happened there, I doubt it would have the same impact – or vice versa.
I read the papers in the USA when the fires were raging there last summer and it almost seemed as if the papers were reporting events in another country. Here all the papers, national and local, are filled with the fires, the loss of life, and requests for donations etc to help the stricken pull their lives back together. Yet in the USA it seemed as if it was just ‘accepted’ that there were casualties… and then moved on to the next news item.
Maybe this sense of “Australian-ism” is something unique, it’s hard to say, but there does seem to be a sense of ‘one community’ in people I’ve spoken to that overcomes the tyranny of distance. In fact whilst I was in the Post Office this morning I eavesdropped a conversation between a customer and the assistant trying to work out the best way for the customer to send a donation of goods (actually ‘hair and beauty’ care products) for the women down there to help them regain some dignity. It was such a nice gesture it almost had me in tears but also started me thinking along the lines of how integrated Australian society really is.
In the face of continued immigration and multiculturalism I really hope it continues. There is something special about the “Aussie Spirit” that the world can’t afford to lose.