MultiCulturalism and ANZAC Day

Image of poem and graphic "Anzac Day"

Anzac Day by Owen Allen 1994

I am posting here the whole media release of Dr Farvadin Daliri who was, this year appointed by the Australian government, a People of Australia Ambassador.

My own response was: “My wife and I sing with ‘Sing Australia’ in Atherton and will be singing for ANZAC Day celebrations. This year we are also performing the New Zealand National Anthem in both English and Maori. Our Atherton group is rather white anglosaxon, however we often sing with the Mareeba group that has a large number of Italian and Spanish background people. The groups will also go to Ingham in July to sing in the Italian Festival. We sing for Australia Day, and also for small local community events. Everyone really enjoys each other’s company, especially in this common endeavour. There is one other community singing group in our local area – an acapella group – an offshoot of Beat Lehman’s ‘Acquapella’ from Townsville. I think there is hardly a song in their repertoire that is English.

So I agree with your main message, all people understand the gravity of ANZAC Day and most are enthusiastic in commemoration. There is definitely opportunity for ANZAC Day organisers to make space for new comers. And for those who come from cultures who weren’t so involved in that theatre, the opportunity of ANZAC Day is always the opportunity to reflect on how futile war is, in the context that most Australian families at the time lost sons, and I think everyone can empathise with that.

Personally, I often use the day to remember that it was Australian and British troops who, at the end of WWI, saved the life of Abdu’l Baha and the fledgling Baha’i community based in the Haifa area, and that lead to the inauguration of the ‘Save the Children’s Fund’ in Europe, a British knighthood for Abdu’l-Baha for his services in preventing famine in the Haifa region during WWI, and the extraordinary service that has grown across the world through Baha’is of all cultures who have been inspired by Abdu’l-Baha.”

My poem on Anzac Day, here, was written in 1994 after watching an ANZAC Day parade in Perth. For those of you who know your Qu’ran, you might recognise the reference to it in “clots of blood’ (Rodwell translation).

Acceptance of the ANZAC day is a reality of Australian Multiculturalism
Media release
Dr Farvardin Daliri OAM, People of Australia Ambassador
On behalf of the
Townsville Intercultural Centre Ltd.
Office of the Cultural Fest 2012
Transition for Change 2012; Unity in Diversity International Conference

Anzac Day is historically a significant Australian commemoration. ANZAC day is about remembering those who gave their lives for the greater good. Soldiers do not make decisions about going to war, rather they offer their life as a service to their country and in this respect, soldering is a universal phenomenon and is trans-cultural. The celebration of Anzac Day is one of the highlights of Australia’s cultural traditions and calendar and is part of what Australian people do in this country. Multiculturalism is also an Australian innovation, meaning that every member of the community respects and accepts other people’s cultures, celebrations, ideals and expressions. In this context Multicultural Australia must respect ANZAC day and there should be no doubt or discussion about it. If for a moment one considers opposing the ANZAC day commemoration, the whole idea of Multiculturalism will be challenged and invalidated, that is because, within the framework of Multiculturalism, acceptance is essentially inclusive, and cannot exclude respect for ANZAC day and those who are passionate about it.

The recent suggestion that the celebration of Anzac Day is not compatible with multicultural aspirations is an unfair and divisive attack on the social fabric of Australia. This is clearly an attempt to divide Australians on the very issue, on the very basis on which they are united.

The report claims that there have been consultations and focus groups costing some millions of dollars. I have lived in this community for long enough, I have never been consulted with and know no one who has been consulted on this issue. No one asked me whether or not I have an opinion about Anzac Day. Who does this report claim to “represent”? Whose views are represented here? Is it the faceless men behind the scene again having a go at the very roots of the community and at our unity and harmony? Making people take a stance against each other? People; immigrants, refugees under whatever circumstances or conditions or categories have chosen to arrive here in Australia, they “choose” to come here because of what it is and how it is, a wonderful free and inclusive nation “as it is”.

What is unique about Australia’s multiculturalism is the fact that many cultural groups and individuals have made Australia home because of one thing; acceptance and freedom and this has been the ground rule for everybody. On the same basis and by the same token Anzac day commemorations should be accepted by all as a prominent part of Australian diversity.

The prediction that in 2015 Multiculturalism will be non compatible with ANZAC day is figment of few people’s imagination and has nothing to do with the reality of multiculturalism. The announcement of this report is very upsetting for me personally because I have worked hard almost a lifetime with people in this community to address the issues of community cohesion and acceptance. I tried hard to add value to Australia through enhancement of cohesion and unity. So when I see that the whole bandwagon of multiculturalism is being derailed and high jacked by these baseless assumptions that do no good to anyone I feel disappointed. I feel that if there is anything wrong in Australian it is exactly this aspect which is related to limited pockets of wasted interest who have a divisive mindset in our community and is un-Australian. I have never heard in over 30 years of one single person having an objection to Anzac Day. People may choose not to attend ceremonies for their own personal reasons. To say that this is something that should not happen is absolutely based on someone’s dream of dividing this community on the basis of the colour, ethnicity and culture. There is no way that we can deduct multiculturalism from Australia’s social fabric. Whenever there is an attack on multiculturalism and whenever someone tries to demean or project a negative image, it is like attacking the heart of Australia. It is a fact that this negative energy will carry through to young people, through the school yards. People will start looking at each other with suspicion and that will become a real problem of division.

Australian multiculturalism is not an ethnic multiculturalism but a uniquely Australian concept that has evolved into the most beautiful of social combinations with the heritage that we have from both indigenous and Australian mainstream cultures and the many cultures and ways of life that have come in peace and have settled in together forming this wonderful nation Australia.

Every now and then someone attacks this marvelous achievement and tries to draw the lines between us and them, an “it doesn’t work so let’s give up” approach. This report has gone too far. ANZAC day is part of our Australian tradition. Why would anyone want to wreck it? People can celebrate whatever they want from significant cultural events to religious festivals and traditional ceremonies. Wonderful Australians support such events, and enjoy them no matter how strange they seem to be. We have so many reasons to celebrate life. People can go and celebrate and do what suits them. The government and community supports them. This whole fiesta of celebrations also includes those celebrations
and commemorations that are important to mainstream Australians. Welcome to Australia Multiculturalism.

I personally respect those who celebrate ANZAC day and their aspirations. I try to learn more and understand and be educated about this great day. I would encourage and support other people to do so. If I do not respect the mainstream culture and traditions how can I expect them to respect and understand newcomers to this land? It is my view, my common sense and sense of decency, telling me that I need also to understand the culture of my host community. Then I can expect a mutual acceptance and respect. Then I can hope that multiculturalism and mutual acceptance and integrity of being equal in the community is working.

I hope that Cultural Fest 2015 will organise activities in commemoration of this important centenary of ANZAC day. This is my commitment.

Dr Farvardin Daliri OAM
Townsville Intercultural Centre Ltd.
Office of the Cultural Fest 2012
Transition for Change 2012, Unity In Diversity International Conference
http://www.culturalfest.com.au http://www.unityindiversityconference.com
Mobile: 0414356875

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