Australian National Identity: This essay will argue that tolerance has had major influence on our Australian National Identity through aspects such as, multiculturalism, our wide variety of Religious beliefs and practices, the acceptance of sexual identities and a vast range of Political issues. Australia is a country known to have traits such as, fair go, stoicism, larrikinism and most importantly mateship, which reflects our high tolerance on many issues. Tolerance is defined as ‘the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others’. Sexual identity and our acceptance in society of same sex partnerships is evidence of the tolerance of Australian Society. Each year in Sydney, a Parade is held for those who wish to celebrate their sexual freedom or sexual equality, this being the Mardi Gras. The parade was first established in June 1978 when a human rights protest arose arguing that all members of society are to be treated as equals, no matter what sexual orientation/identity you are. The nationwide event attracts all different groups of people from around the world, all acknowledging our acceptance of same sex partnerships. This point is clarified by the Same-Sex Relationships Act which was passed in November 2008 and has travelled a long way to ensuring same-sex de facto couples and their families have equality under Australian law. Australia’s acceptance of religious freedom is also an important element of our Australian identity. In today’s society we have a number of different religious beliefs and rituals which are recognized and celebrated by many people. These people have a number of different religious backgrounds and for Australia to prove our ethnic diversity, it is our responsibility to supply their needs, this is why we have Mosques and Temples developed throughout Australia for our blended society to feel equal. Our current schooling system also tolerates different Religious views in a major way by incorporating these values in our teachings, field trips (excursions) are held to widen our younger generations view on their fellow Australians religious beliefs, not only in Public Schools, but in Catholic Schools and Universities. Our Government realized we had to adapt to serve each and everyone in today’s society which brought on the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act which was established in 2001 and amended in May 2006 to suit the needs of our national identity. The Act supports the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect, a community standard about how we behave towards each other. As part of Australia’s National Identity, we are known for our democratic voting rights and the freedom of speech, this is conducted through private voting booths, where we are able to choose who we think is right for the leadership of our Nation. For all Citizens over the age of 18 it is compulsory to vote in the election of both federal and state governments, in many countries this will never be heard of. Australia has many different political views on all matters, and as a society we have the right to vote and voice our own opinions without feeling threatened or judged. On another Political point regarding our tolerance on issues, is ‘The Apology’ which was delivered on 13 February 2008 by our newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to members of the Stolen Generation on behalf of the Australian Government. A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity. ” “A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia. ” With such high tolerance as Australia’s, we were able to admit our wrongs and formally apologize to the Nation. The speech was a huge milestone for our Country by acknowledging our wrong laws and policies in the past and try for a better future with all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The concept of Australia as a multicultural society was first produced in a Government document in 1972, though it wasn’t till the late 1980’s that the federal government undertook the task of developing a multicultural Australia. Further down the track we now pride ourselves on being a multicultural society, one of the few nations on earth with ethnic diversity but without major tension or violence. With reference to an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph dated 13 March 2010’ were Rosemarie Lentini states “Australia opened its doors for the first time after World War II to European immigrants like Italians, Greeks and Poles” “Post War immigration challenged previous ideas of what the Australian Identity is”. “We had new Europeans who had assimilated but still changed our food, our interactions and how we understand the world”. This shows Australia’s tolerance of change within our society. Multiculturalism is by far the leading topic of discussion in Political views today, each month we hear of, the nicknamed, ‘Boat People’, also known as Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, who flee their Country to search of a better lifestyle, whether it is for jobs or simply to get away from war and poverty. Australia is the main target for such an influx of refugees and asylum seekers as we are known as the ‘Laid Back’ society and being so tolerant of such matters, therefore shaping a heavily multicultural society. This society creates new connections between people of all backgrounds in our Schools, our streets, our news and entertainment. Ultimately, it is apparent that Australia’s tolerance has had a major influence on our National identity. With our Government tolerating a number issues, it provides better foundations by which people of different sexual orientation, Religious & Political view and most importantly people of different cultural backgrounds can interact and learn from each other, this is the key to progress, our capacity to absorb the rest of the world’s cultures and create a stronger Australia.
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