Archive for the ‘Australian Culture’ Category

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424. Self Portrait

January 24, 2011

20 January 2011 – photo, Nikon D90, 50 mm lens

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any photos. Armed with a mirror and camera I thought I’d have a bit of fun on a sunny summer’s day… (Australia’s summer this time has been exceptionally wet, so any sunny day is an event worth noting!)

My singlet and shorts are new, bought from Supré. The hair colour (blue-black) is new too. And the belt is super cute, I bought it from Ozmosis. The singlet says “I ❤ Aus” on the front – Australia Day is coming up this week (26 January) and I don’t know about anyone else, but there’s definitely a sense that Aussies are becoming more patriotic these days. I see it as a positive. For a lot of us, we may be several generations Australian, and I see this movement as a way for young adults like me to say, yes, we acknowledge our various ancestries, but we are Aussie, this is who we are, it’s unique, it’s positive. Anyway, I’m rambling.

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417. Spring

September 10, 2010

30 August 2010 - Mobile Phone Photo

Flowering gum tree in a car park. The end of winter, start of spring, heralded by the arrival of pretty red gum blossoms.

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And, on the topic of the election…

July 30, 2010

I just inadvertently came across some interesting, hateful, anti-Christian material regarding the Australian election. I don’t normally read this stuff, and believe everyone’s entitled to their opinion… Yet, I do wonder where the logic lies in the argument that Christians should not be  given a voice in politics.

We (as in, my family) pay our taxes, work hard, care about social issues (particularly social justice), and  yet it would appear that some fellow Aussies can’t think of anything better to say than “Oh, those right-wing conservatives are daring to influence politics.”

Despite stereotypes that have presumably been forced on the Australian conscience by the over-influence of American culture in our media, to be Christian is not the equivalent of being a fundamentalist right-wing, gun-toting nutcase who forces Bibles on the unwilling masses and herds them into church buildings like mindless cattle. I distance myself from any such caricature.

I am green conscious, vegetarian, anti-hunting, anti-whaling, and I care about issues such as the rising violence in Australian cities, the suffering of the homeless, the breakdown of family relationships, hospital waiting lists, road congestion, public transport, the quality of life for Indigenous Australians, the treatment of refugees, the unfair lack of services for rural Australians, the shocking statistics on child abuse, the need for high educational standards across all types of schools, the freedom of choice for parents to raise their children in their chosen cultural context, the fight on shameful racist violence… How are these the concerns of some redneck yokel?

I certainly can’t answer for all Christians and won’t deny that some of them hold different views to the PC accepted “norm” but then, so what? Isn’t that what we get when for living in a democracy? Everyone gets a say, and a vote. Including Christians, and representatives of other religious belief systems. It’s not just the non-religious who should get a say in the running of this nation.

Is it a surprise that some Christian citizens take the matter of politics seriously? I don’t think so. Some of us are trying to be good citizens, and it’s not in the name of some conspiracy theory hate-filled attack on minority groups. I can’t believe that it even feels necessary to point out these things.

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Australian Election: Resources for Christian Voters

July 30, 2010

Here’s a few links (all accessed 30 July 2010) on the upcoming Australian Federal election. Some Christian ministries have spent a lot of time and effort in trying to “demystify” the different positions of some of the political parties and it is well worth looking at their materials. As far as I can tell, none of these ministries promotes one particular party over the other, seeking to provide a straightforward comparison of the parties’ positions on issues that may be meaningful to Christian voters.

http://www.christianvalues.org.au/check_list.html

http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/29/christians-and-the-election/

http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/make-it-count/

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Thoughts on Australian politics

July 20, 2010

At the risk of inadvertently turning this into a political blog, I want to highlight the important issue of chaplains in Australian schools.

In recent times, chaplains have been made available in many schools to help students work through their issues. I have, as a parent, even employed the services of my children’s school chaplains when one of my kids was struggling with some issues. The chaplains responded quickly and provided excellent standards of counselling and assistance for my child, who subsequently saw a great improvement in social relationships with other children at school.

Some politicians (particularly the left wing, though some of those have supported chaplaincy) have suggested that the widespread religious education programmes in Australian public (Government-operated) schools and chaplaincy should be replaced in favour of non-religious “ethics” classes and psychologists.

While I understand the arguments in favour of this position, I personally believe that the holistic care of a chaplain (not just mental and emotional but also spiritual) and the opportunity for children to learn about the spiritual/ religious foundations of many Australians’ lifestyles are important and significant.

For fellow Australians who are interested in learning more about what chaplaincy is about, and who want to see it continued after the next election, please look at these websites:

National School Chaplaincy Association (with information on contacting your local representative in support of chaplaincy)

Access Ministries – chaplains and religious education teachers

Here are some articles on how chaplains and religious ministers have helped in the aftermath of the Black Saturday crisis, in early 2009 when bushfires claimed the lives of hundreds of Victorians.

“Parishes, chaplains step up to help fire victims”

“A Chaplain’s Story”

“The Firefighters”

National Research Findings on Chaplaincy in Australian Schools (Link to a PDF)

“Responding to the Bush Fire Tragedy”

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Australian Election 2010

July 19, 2010

So, another Federal election is around the corner.

One interesting issue that has been highlighted in the Australian media is the problematic reluctance of young Australians to enrol to vote. Perhaps they  (the 17-25 year old age group) do not realise that enrolling to vote is a legal requirement for all eligible citizens aged 17 and over?

I’m sure that they’re not, on the whole, politically apathetic. Perhaps it seems like such a hassle – getting up on a Saturday morning once every couple of years, lining up for a few minutes at one of the many polling centres around the country, and getting one’s name ticked off the list? The lure of the standard sausage sizzle that is found at a lot of voting centres mustn’t be strong enough!

I guess I can’t speculate on the reasons why a lot of young people are moralising and justifying their deliberate avoidance of enrolling to vote. I’m not much older than the above-mentioned demographic, and yet I cannot understand the desire to avoid voting. Politics affects our daily lives.

I, for one, want a say in how my country is run.

Here’s a few suggestions from my end:

learn some of the history of the struggles faced by different people groups, including socio-ecnomic groups, ethnicities and genders, in securing the right and freedom to vote. Maybe you’ll realise what a privilege it is.

– refusal to participate in democratic process surely negates the right to complain about the process.

– get educated. Learn the broad policy overviews of the different political parties. It’s not that hard. The Liberals and Labor are similar, yes, but sit on opposite sides of the political fence. The Australian Liberals are more conservative, the Labor party more left wing. Family First and the Greens provide alternative viewpoints. There’s a heaps of other minor parties too. Find an issue you care about and see what the parties are saying about it.

Homelessness? Taxes? The breakdown of the family unit? Environment? Health care? Marriage and divorce? Social justice? Refugees? Racism? Crime?

(On the issue of how Australian politics is affecting the needs of the homeless, go have a look at the Swags for the Homeless website.)

Have a look at the ACL Make It Count website to see some of the issues addressed by the two major parties.

After all that, Enrol to Vote as soon as possible!

There are lot of political parties in Australia, and here are links to a few of their websites. I am listing them alphabetically and not making any references to my own preferred politicians. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Australian Democrats

Australian Labor

Christian Democratic Party

Family First

Liberal Party of Australia

The Greens

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410. Feeling a bit Australian

July 9, 2010

Coloured pencil on paper, October 2009.

There’s a popular Australian kids’ song about a kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree. I don’t know why I thought of it, except that the tree here is gum tree-esque and there’s a bird in it. Not a kookaburra, though.

I wanted to capture a sense of the Australian summer. It’s usually hot, but in recent summers it’s been awfully hot. Living in south-eastern Australia means that the weather isn’t usually too bad, but it can swing to some crazy extremes in summer (December-February) and winter (June-August). So, while we’ve had temperatures in the high 40s (degrees Celsius) in summer, we also have had temperatures as low as 2 degrees Celsius in the last week. We have a saying in Melbourne: if you don’t like the weather outside, just look out a different window. More often than not, it’s true. Grey storm clouds out the kitchen window and sunshine out the bedroom window is a common enough occurrence that I started taking that saying literally!

On the topic of Melbourne, I wish I could demonstrate how it’s pronounced here. Maybe one of these days I’ll have to make a video of me talking about Aussie-isms (with my rural Victorian accent I sound more ocker than my “cultivated” husband’s city private school accent that other people mistake for being British)… and yes, I can do a fair impression of Strine. For the benefit of my multicultural friends, though, I often have to speak in the cultivated accent… though some of them find my ocker accent pretty entertaining. Ah, funny. I love being Aussie.

Oh, on pronouncing Melbourne, don’t think mel-born. Think mel-b’n. I hope that helps. On pronouncing Australia, think oss-stray-lee-aaah, not oz-strah-lee-ah. Hmm. This is why phonics doesn’t work so well, right? 😉

http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/107560/works

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