If Australia, as the Prime Minister claims, is the most successful multicultural country on the planet then we need to embrace that multiculturalism when accepting new citizens.
Immigrants to Australia have made immense contributions to our country and many did so without ever being able to speak English to native standards. Look at the many very successful Chinese, Vietnamese, Italians and Croats. Go to Chinatown and experience that some of those who serve you in restaurants barely speak English, and there are quite a few old Italians walking around Freo who have lived here for sixty plus years whose English language skills would not be good enough to get Australian citizenship today.
Fact is that holding on to one’s language, culture, food, traditions and religion when one migrates gives a sense of belonging, safety and security in a foreign country, even more so for those who were forced to leave their countries.
But it does not matter because the actual integration starts with the children and grandchildren of the original immigrants, and see how they too are successful with many immigrant children being the top students at high schools and in universities, to the benefit of Australia because they will become our future leaders.
By introducing questions about domestic violence to obtain citizenship the government emphasises difference in culture when it should realise that people change when migrating and most of them will accept the rules and laws of their new country, because most have been brought up to be law-abiding people no matter where they live.
Christians don’t break the law and kill people because the Bible preaches and eye for an eye, so why would Muslim men break Australian laws and beat their wife because the Koran says they can?
Domestic violence is rampant in Australia where drunken men beat up their female partners. Muslims don’t drink alcohol so it is more likely that there is less domestic violence in their culture because of that.
We need to have a bit of a reality check in our country. Politicians always talk about values when often they set the standards very low themselves, and many Australians still believe the urban myth of fair go and that we are the best country in the world.
As someone who was born in the Netherlands, where I lived for 19 years, and who lived in Germany for 13 years, before migrating to Australia 35 years ago, I have often been staggered by the racism, ignorance and lack of tolerance of many Australians. There is no doubt in my mind that Australia is more racist than those two countries.
The difference between the countries is that many Australians only tolerate foreigners and different cultures while the two European countries I lived in actually accept and respect migrants for what they are. That is a big difference we in Australia still need to work on.
The cute thing about it all is that all these bogans who get drunk on Friday night and eat kebabs, curries and fish&chips don’t realise they are eating Hahal food often prepared by Muslims.
Migrants from all over the world generously contribute to Australia. They volunteer in community groups, schools, mosques, churches, sporting clubs, etc. and their respect for their new country and involvement with their community makes up for their lack of English language skills.
My own personal experience travelling the world has been that most people are good, caring, compassionate, hospitable and law-abiding, but that there are morons and criminals in every culture and religion.
Accepting and respecting difference should be one of Australia’s core values because it enriches all of us and we should welcome those who want to commit themselves to become new Australians.
Today is my personal Australia Day! Thirty-five years ago today on March 13, 1982 I landed in Australia with my then partner Brigitte to start our new life on the other side of the world, and what a journey it has been.
The decision to migrate to Australia was seen by many friends and colleagues in Germany as foolhardy and naïve, but how wrong they were.
There is no doubt that my Australian years have been the most challenging and often very difficult years of my life. I went through all the highs and all the lows, from a highly successful photography business to a financial disaster triggered by severe depressions, from beautiful houses to awful granny flats, and from great love affairs to a badly broken heart, but as the French say c’est la vie. Shit happens.
But overall it has been a wonderful adventure where I learned so much about myself and life, and at the end I came through it wiser, tougher, more considerate and more tolerant, so these are good gains and lessons.
Moving from Sydney to Perth in September 1985 was stroke of genius, and moving to Fremantle in the early 1990s was pure brilliance as I love living in our beautiful little port city.
Fremantle taught me so much about community engagement and passion and yesterday’s huge Labor election win shows that the enormous Roe 8 people power movement made a big difference and that politicians who ignore the people will be punished. There is an important message for the elected members of the City of Fremantle in that as well.
The good thing about integration in a new culture is that it does not come at the cost of losing one’s identity and culture and while I became an Australian citizen in 1985 much of me will always remain Dutch as the education I received and the values instilled in me in the Netherlands will be with me forever.
Respecting people and being compassionate was something my parents showed me daily, and that being generous and honest and standing up for people less fortunate are good things. They are beautiful values to have.
I love people and the Fremantle community is my family. They are the people I want to look after and support and while I have failed dismally on a few occasions I have always tried my best.
Fremantle has given me a deep sense of belonging and a purpose that is much more than just surviving and earning money. It has taught me that looking after the community one lives in and supporting positive change can make a real difference and that doing that is very rewarding.
I don’t have all that many years left in life but as long as I can do it I will try to help make Fremantle and even better place to live and love in.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of my Aussie life so far. It has been a mind-blowing journey!
My personal Australia Day is March 13, as it was a balmy day 35 years ago in 1982 when my German partner Brigitte and I arrived in Sydney for the biggest adventure of our life. A big contrast from the snow storm we had at our departure a day earlier at Nuremberg airport.
Soon we rented a sixth floor apartment with two large balconies at Bondi Junction and overlooked the stunning harbour, Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the beaches.
The culture shock impact was reduced when we attended two months of language and culture classes at the Blackfriar school together with people from all over the world. We became friends with people from Iran, Austria, Indonesia, etc.
What stood out most for me in our new country was the multiculturalism, and of course the great blue sky and gorgeous weather.
My job as a infill photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald during the Brisbane Commonwealth Games was cancelled because there was a recession, so I ended up working as a kitchenhand and cook at a posh yacht club and waiter at a golf club.
Even work was all about multiculturalism. In the Rose Bay yacht club the manager was Dutch, the catering manager Czechoslovakian, the chef from Wales, the cooks French, while at the Chatswood golf club I worked for an Austrian chef and German manager.
After a year though I started as a freelance photographer working for designers, the Housing Commission of NSW and Rugby League Week magazine. Multiculturalism supported me again with an Iranian friend getting me the work at the Housing Commission while a designer who had migrated from Prague also gave me some assignments.
I was introduced to fish&chips, pies, cricket and cask wine and while test matches were boring I quite liked one day cricket. Now after 35 years in Australia you can’t get me away from the TV during a test match and Boxing Day is sacred for that. And of course I love Aussie Rules!
In September 1985 we decided to move to Perth and start all over again. We crossed the country in our old Honda Civic and bought our very first property, a small brand new villa in Como, on our first weekend in the west.
We registered our photography business and started showing my portfolio, with mainly B&W press photos, as I had been working for newspapers, magazines and press agencies in Germany. Soon we got our first assignments; a shoot at Blina near Derby for an oil company, the State Energy Commission liked my work and so did designers, advertising agencies, architects, the mining and tourism industries, Fremantle Ports, and government departments.
I became the official photographer for the Legislative Council and the the Governor of WA Gordon Reid for some years and through that the official photographer during the visit of HRH Princess Ann and travelled with her to the Kimberley and Pilbarra. A photo album with my photos of that visit was presented to HRH by then Premier Brian Burke on her last day here.
Life was so good that we soon bought a beautiful Californian bungalow in Swanbourne that we later extended. We bought the house from well-known artist Ashley Jones and his wife Nina and decided to keep their tradition of an open house on Friday evenings, and we ended up getting to know a lot of people fast that way.
In the late 80s my partner wanted to open an art gallery and Artplace in the Old Theatre Lane in Claremont became our new adventure and a great success for Brigitte, but after 20 years of living together we decided in the early 90s to split up and I moved to Fremantle.
Although I had a great life while living in the Netherlands for 20 years and in Germany for 13, Fremantle is the love of my life, so I soon became involved with community groups, the Walyalup Reconciliation Group, Fremantle Society, Roundhouse volunteer guides, etc. and was awarded Fremantle Citizen of the Year 2012 by the WA Premier.
I love Fremantle because it is full of interesting, quirky, caring and creative people from all over the world, and because of the stunning historic West End. There is not a day that I don’t drive onto the South Mole to look at the harbour and Indian Ocean and my favourite West End cafes know that I drink double espressos.
My respect for Aboriginal culture and people started early when I met Michelle, an Injibandi woman, at the Japingka Gallery. We became good friends and I one of the babysitters for her sons Simon and Reuben. I have always felt at home with our indigenous people and on my spiritual 58,000 km, eight-month trip criss crossing Australia in the mid 1990s I often connected with them as they showed me their land and told me their stories without ever treating me as someone responsible for their plight.
Multiculturalism is something I embrace and like, even in my love life, with lovers from Germany, Canada, Australia, Serbia and Sri Lanka. The one thing I absolutely can’t tolerate is racism because I believe that most people from all cultures and religions are good people.
Through my involvement with markets I became friends with many of the Muslim stall holders. All decent, hard-working family people who don’t pose a threat to anyone.
Adapting to my new country was often challenging but it helps that I am interested in just about everything, and having an open mind and a love for people. I handed back my Dutch passport in 1985 when I became Australian and never have regretted it.
Australia is not the best country on earth, no country is, but it is a bloody good one and I am so happy and grateful I made the brave decision to migrate here. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!
I’ll be enjoying Australia Day at the Roundhouse talking to people from all over the world telling them about the fascinating history of Fremantle.
The media reports that Reclaim Australia want to hold a rally in Fremantle on Australia Day, and as someone who migrated from Europe to Australia 35 years ago I have been wondering what Reclaim Australia actually want to reclaim and whom from.
Australia has become the great nation it is because of everyone who came here, including our first nation people, who also wandered into this part of the world some 50,000 years ago.
Why is there a fear of foreigners when foreigners have helped to make Australia great? Why is there a fear of non Christians when people of other religions have lived peacefully here for hundreds of years?
Muslims from Asia traded with Aborigines long before British settlement of this continent and Muslim Afghan cameleers came to Melbourne in 1890 and were reported to be in Western Australia even earlier.
Wander through Northbridge and witness the hive of activity and the enormous success of Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Japanese immigrants.
Visit Fremantle and see how this city prospered because of the Italians, Greeks and Croats. Our fishing industry would not exist without them.
Look at these statistics: Nearly 50 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Two hundred languages are spoken in Australia, including 48 indigenous one, so who are the real Australians according to those who want to reclaim Australia?
Less than 3 per cent of the Australian population is Muslim and of those people 99.9 per cent are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who positively contribute to our nation. I am lucky to have made many friends with Muslim market stall holders in Fremantle, all hard-working decent family people who don’t pose a threat to anyone.
Are ‘real Australians’ only white Christian Anglo-Saxons and where does that leave our Aboriginal people and all immigrants who have been here for many generations? Are children who are born here not considered to be ‘real Australians’ when they are not white and not Christian?
What about Australia the country of freedom, tolerance and fair go for all, why does that no longer apply to those from different cultures or religions. Surely the colour of one’s skin does not affect one’s ability to be a contributing member to our society, and neither does it matter what clothes people wear.
The City of Fremantle has not cancelled Australia Day, only the fireworks. There is a citizenship ceremony on the 26th where we welcome many new Australians from all over the world and from all different cultures and religions.
It is not political correctness gone mad by some left wing loonies that many of us want to debate if a different date for Australia Day would be more appropriate for all states and territories and more respectful to our indigenous history. January 26 has only historic significance for NSW where the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove on that day, but it means very little to other parts of the country.
Australia only became a nation on the day of federation which is January 1, so why not have a mature debate about the issue. It does not deny anyone to celebrate Australia and it is not disrespectful to any part of our history.
Moving forward and looking to the future does not mean we should belittle the wrongs of the past, but acknowledge that we can improve and become and even better society.
Freedom is all about tolerance, acceptance and the willingness to share with everyone on earth, so instead of judging and condemning difference we should embrace the diversity and multiculturalism and be grateful for the contribution immigrants have made to Australia.
Giving EVERYONE a Fair Go is what Australia Day should be all about!
I find it quite amusing to read that the Federal Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke has threatened Fremantle Council that the government could revoke Fremantle’s ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies because it will no longer have an event on Australia Day on January 26, but instead a big concert on January 28.
The Ass. Minister said council could not politicise the national celebrations of Australia Day.
Citizenship ceremonies all over Australia are held on days other than Australia day, so I see no reason why the City of Fremantle should be forced to hold one on January 26.
I would also like to know how many WA councils and shires celebrate Australia Day with events other than citzenship ceremonies. Has anyone in the commercial mass media bothered to check?
There is always a lot of orange when Dutch people get together and today’s Dirk Hartog Festival at B Shed on Fremantle’s Victoria Quay was not different.
There was however not a single bit of cheese to be seen but Linda and Isa-Bo of Treacle Treat were very busy making poffertjes, stroopwafels, kroketten and bitterballen, while the Indonesian stall reminded us of the close connection between that country and the Netherlands.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and State Treasurer Mike Nahan opened the historic day that celebrated the arrival of Dirk Hartog at Shark Bay 400 years ago.
The Dutchies also had a huge party at Little Creatures on the weekend.
But let’s forget about all those so-called important historic Dutchies and their connection to WA. No doubt the most outstanding one of the lot is obnoxious Dutch Fremantle blogger Roel Loopers who was awarded Fremantle Citizen of the Year in 2013 by Premier Colin Barnett.
How popular this choice was was shown with one person complaining to the City of Fremantle CEO that Loopy was not a fit and proper person to receive that award. There is only one very Dutch response to that. Klootzak! ; >)
Fremantle CODA architects will be participating in the City of Fremantle PARK(ing) Day, which will be held this Friday September 18. They have connected the day with their own fundraising activities and are hoping to raise money for the Fremantle Migrants Centre.
For the last few months CODA has been raising money internally to assist the centre in their Pursuit for a Ute to be used to help welcome and settle people in WA. For each cake that CODA staff eat in the studio (and that’s a lot!) they get asked to make a gold coin donation.
On PARK(ING) DAY CODA will give away little potted lettuce and tomato seeds at their parklet for a gold coin donation. They have been supported by Dawsons, The Green Life Soil Co, Supafresh Leaves and Creation Landscape Supplies, who have all contributed to make it possible. The CODA team have been madly making little recycled pots all week long, as the photo shows.
Their parklet will be decorated with plants and hay bales and will be a fun place to stop off and visit. It looks like the parklet will be located near Il Cibo in Market Street.
This is a great initiative by CODA so look for the well-dressed overweight cake-eating creatives and support the fundraiser! ; >)
ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.
Authorised by Roel Loopers. 5 Maxwell Street. Beaconsfield 6162
Is it time for an independent political party in Australia, a truly balanced party that has values and morals and where elected members always have a conscious vote instead of having to vote along party lines?
Many Australians are very disappointed with the major parties. Cynicism about politicians and their egos, arrogance and power lust is increasing daily.
The lack of balance and only wanting to rubbish whatever the opposition parties are proposing is a mind-blowing show of narrow-mindedness and lack of intelligence.
Politicians are not interested what is best for our country, or state, they only want to get into or remain in power at all cost. Any values they or their party might have had in the past have all but disappeared in the greedy grab for power.
The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger and those who need society’s support most are being ignored more and more because our politicians look for the lowest denominator when it comes to increasing their popularity. It is much easier to dismiss those irrelevant minority groups, the narcissistic disabled, the always complaining aged and those nasty lazy dole bludgers, than to actually get millionaires pay tax.
Racism is yet again increasing in Australia because of a severe lack of leadership by those who take more and more freedom away from us under the guise of wanting to protect us from all those foreign nasties. Our Christian politicians are happy to implement inhumane laws and policies because they don’t care about people and compassion.
Our leaders are building monuments to show their greatness instead of shelters for the homeless and the poor. There is always money in the budget for impressive projects but less and less for education, health, social services and science.
There are millions of dollars available for a pedestrian bridge to a new and expensive football stadium but not to replace the dodgy Fremantle railway bridge.
I have long given up believing in what the leaders of the Labor or Liberal party promise because all they do is try to win votes at the next election so their hunger for power gets satisfied. I no longer believe that Bill Shorten would be a better leader than the disgraceful Tony Abbott is or that Mark McGowan would to a better job than the arrogant Colin Barnett, and it pisses me off that there are no alternatives and that my vote will be wasted again at one of the next elections, because there are no true leaders with true values who actually care. That is so frustrating and disappointing!
This welcome to country sign on the ‘wedding wall’ at Fremantle’s Cliff Street is a welcome reminder that Australia embraces multiculturalism and immigration and that we are not a mob of racist bigots. On June 14 the annual Refugees Welcome Fiesta will be on at the Esplanade, so come and say hello to new Australians and get to know them.