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.
It’s Easter and the wattle is starting to blossom in Fremantle. It’s a brilliant morning that does not deserve or require negativity and it is a special and important day for Christians, so let us celebrate life instead of finding an excuse for attacking our Muslim brothers and sisters, as a columnist in the Sunday Times today does.
Religions are important and valuable for those who believe in their gods and who gain strength from it and it is not up to anyone to judge people because of their religion.
It is so irrelevant if some Muslim women don’t shake hands with men as culture, tradition and religions are all different. I have been to countries where I was told not to touch children on their head because of culture or religion. No big deal.
When I arrived in Australia 35 years ago it was the norm for men to shake hands with men but not with women. I never embraced that practice because I was brought up in the Dutch culture of shaking hands with men and women, but it never was a big deal, just different and for me slightly awkward to observe.
Many religious traditions have over hundreds of years become more cultural traditions with people often not knowing what it is we celebrate. How many of us will reflect today on the biblical Christian belief that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ who was nailed to a cross? This is very meaningful to all Christians but pretty meaningless to other religions and non-believers. No big deal.
Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have probably very little to do with Jesus Christ, but that is not a big deal either, as long as we all try to live peacefully and with mutual respect for each other.
This weekend is perfect to celebrate our great Australian multiculturalism and the acceptance of all different religions, cultures and traditions. When you walk around the Fremantle International Street Arts Festival the next two days that is what you will be witnessing; people living together in near perfect harmony.
Have a great Easter!
The boring Good Fridays of the past are over in Fremantle and most cafes are open for business and were busy already just after nine this morning.
I have never seen so many people fishing on the South Mole as today, with (illegal) parking on both sides full.
Supermarkets are closed but the great Peaches in South Freo is open and so are the Fremantle Markets and the Fishing Boat Harbour traders.
The Fremantle International Street Arts Festival is on at the Esplanade from 12-5 pm and there is live music at J Shed from midday and a pancake stall to have some yummy food.
Just go for a wander and explore beautiful old Freo and find more traders open for business.
Happy hippy days at the Fremantle Arts Centre with the exhibition Orange: Sannyas in Fremantle about all the many lovers of the Indian guru Osho, also known as Bagwan, the leader of the Rajneesh movement and free-range sex who used to roam the streets of Freo, and there are still quite a few of them around.
We’re stepping back in time tonight with the opening of Orange Sannyas in Fremantle! Filled with new multimedia works, the exhibition investigates the legacy of the ‘Orange People’ – one of the most controversial religious movements to arrive in Australia.
I’ll have a look at the exhibition tomorrow and will report a bit more about it.
I took this reflection photo of the Scots Presbyterian Church at Norfolk Street in a window of the old Fremantle Oval this morning.
The Dockers have left Freo Oval for Cockburn, so good riddance to them.
The church was designed by architects Talbot Hobbs and the foundation stone was laid by John Forres on March 26, 1890. The church officially opened seven months later on November 26, 1890.
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!
Christmas is a time of reflection and hope and with so much madness going on in the world we need to remain hopeful that we will be able to turn the destruction of the earth and oceans around and that there will be a good future for the next generations.
Humans do have the ability to stand up in adversity and make necessary changes. We have survived natural disasters and wars all over the planet many times and we can do it again if sanity prevails and if our political leaders become true leaders instead of being power hungry egos only interested in winning the next election.
It is shocking to see the destruction of Aleppo and other places of war and the plight of all these innocent people. It violates my heart to see the idiocy of terrorism and attacks on families because some fanatical criminals believe the god they believe in is better than the gods of other people.
But I remain confident about the future because my own experience with people of all different cultures and religions all over the world has shown that the vast majority of people are good and caring people who are willing to embrace and support fellow humans in need.
We cannot give up hope during the tsunami of madness that is happening and that has made 2016 such a challenging year. We cannot blame all Muslims for the actions of a small group of sadistic criminals, as we do not blame all Catholics for those priests who have abused children. Hatred will not solve anything and neither does blaming all for the crimes of some.
We need to learn the lessons of the past and become more responsible in looking after our planet because the environmental destruction is relentless above and below ground. We are suffocating our oceans while destroying our forests, because we want more and more and more, and that is not sustainable.
Innovation technology will help us to become smarter but our relentless consumerism needs to be curtailed because the environment is suffering because of it.
We need more tolerance and less judgment in our world and more acceptance of diversity. Culture, religion and the colour of someone’s skin are not reasons to reject people and we need to assess every individual on its own merits. There are bad apples in every family, in every country, in every race, religion and culture, but we must keep in mind that most people are good and caring.
I love life because I love people. I love the irreverence, the intelligence, the quirkiness and the true warmth of people and I love it that we are all so different but also so much the same. A big black fella in Fitzroy Crossing summed it all up perfectly for me one night when he looked at me and said “Isn’t it amazing brother that we both have red blood and brown shit.”
Have a very Happy Christmas. Smile at and say G’day to a stranger. Believe in yourself and all of us that we can and will create a better future for all where the poor are less poor and the rich a bit less rich. True equality will only happen if we look after each other better.
A reminder for mums, dads and grandparents that this Sunday December 18 the Fremantle Christmas Carols are on at South Beach from 7 pm, so it will be great to get a stunning sunset while cuddling up with the kids and enjoying the community.
There will be food stalls from 6pm, so no need to bring your own if you feel a bit lazy on the day.
I’m dreaming of a white beach Christmas!
Next Thursday December 15 the Basilica of St Patrick will be holding “Finding a Place: A Christmas Reflection through Words and Music” It is an evening of sacred music, readings and Christmas carols.
Dominic Perissinotto, an organist of world-renown who is currently the Director of Music at St Patrick’s, will coordinate and perform the sacred music pieces with a team of professional musicians, while Dr Angela McCarthy, a regular commentator on ABC Radio National’s religious programmes and senior lecturer with the University of Notre Dame’s School of Theology, is the scripture and liturgy consultant.
This inaugural concert at the Fremantle Basilica is based around a similar event which has been a regular feature on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster in London for many years.
Tickets are $30.00, Concessions $ 20.00 and under 12 free. Proceeds to the Catholic Mission’s work overseas with asylum seekers and refugees.
The traditional and very lovely Blessing of the Fleet was held in Fremantle again today, so don’t get a fright when the fireworks go off at 4pm and 8pm today.
The Blessing was held for the first time in Freo in 1948, the year I was born, so it is pretty old. Unlike me though it is still vibrant with many young people joining in the parade to the Fishing Boat Harbour, where they board the fishing boats for a ride through the harbour.
I love the tradition of the blessing as it has become so much more than a religious event and is now a true showcase of Freo’s fantastic multiculturalism.