Following recent international and Australian political outcomes that point to a rise in racist and populist attitudes and fears of difference, as well as a polarisation of community views and debates, I have been thinking about what response I could make as a concerned member of the community, especially in an Australian setting.
On February 1, 2017 I heard Rebecca Huntley, author of Still Lucky, being interviewed by Richard Fidler on Radio National about her work. She said that more Australian stories and stories of difference need to be told. I immediately began thinking about the people I know from minority religious and ethnic backgrounds, but soon the idea widened out to anyone who might find themselves labelled as ‘other’ or ‘them’.
In response, I have established the This Is Us Australia project. The project will interview willing members of the Australian community with a migration story, be this one of coming to Australia or being born here to parents who migrated. The project is also keen to interview people with other stories of difference. It aims to foster understanding, challenge stereotypes and present a broad and diverse picture of who “we” are as Australians. Participants will be asked a small number of pre-agreed questions. Answers will be posted on this project website and Facebook (@thisisusaustralia), along with a photo and a brief segment of audio.
If you or someone you know might be interested in being interviewed and you would like to know more about what it involves, please consider the Project Description.
Sharon Southwell, Project Co-ordinator
Sharon Southwell lives in Melbourne, where she works as a psychologist. She has a longstanding interest in the place of connection, compassion and contribution in mental health and flourishing. She has written a book on this topic, The Life of Love: An Invitation (2015).
Photograph: Pasteup at the Redfern train station by Adelaide artist Peter Drew, photograph by JAM project via Flickr.