On Sunday 18 August, we celebrated Diversity Sunday. Our guest preacher was Toni
Hassan from Holy Cross. A number of people expressed interest in reading her
address, so here it is.
This is well timed, don’t you think?
I’m talking about this week’s speech by Katter Party Senator Fraser Anning
calling for a return to the White Australia policy.
And it’s not just skin colour. He wants us to stop accepting any new settlers
who do not reflect “the historic European Christian composition of Australian
The response - broad condemnation - was reassuring. Less reassuring was
that a Senator would actually say such a thing. Maybe we haven’t come as far
as we think.
Former Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane makes it
clear that those attacking pluralistic, multicultural Australia are giving permis-
sion to others to act on what they say. 1
On the 730 Report the other night there was a young Sudanese Australian,
Andy. Andy was harassed by a group of young people in a car. They pulled
down the window and shouted 'go back to your country', with expletives. They
threw a bottle at him. Andy says he was “super
angry”. If he had the chance to hurt someone before the car sped off, he would
Debate about our living together with ethnic diversity intersects with debates
about other kinds of diversity - diversity of class, gender and sexuality - as well
as debates about free speech and nationhood. It’s complex.
We can support diversity by standing up for the ‘other’ whenever we find it, and
by actively deciding to engage the ‘other’ in our everyday lives. Choosing en-
gagement and respect over fear.
There’s an exercise often used in workplaces to establish what’s called cultural
competency. It asks individuals and groups to think about diversity in their lives.
Who are the 10 people you are most likely to spend time with? In the last two
weeks did you have a meaningful conversation with someone of a different lan-
guage or ethnicity, religion or class. The exercise tests what opportunities we
have to engage the other - but it’s typically done in a secular setting. We - as
people of faith - are called to practice diversity as a way of life!
St Margaret’s News