Father Chris Riley on Australia Day and social inclusion

This year, I am the Australia Day ambassador for Blacktown and I’ve seen the community really come together through the work we do in the area. Many organisations, including my own, have been talking a lot about social inclusion. As we celebrate being Australian, let’s reflect on the progress we’ve made as an inclusive society.

In 2014, there were several incidences in Blacktown that stirred racial tensions in the community – this is true for many areas around Australia – but the community didn’t let the tension descend into violence. The community came together to address the issues and find common ground, something that Youth Off The Streets is always advocating on a local level.

A further example of Australia becoming an increasingly inclusive place can be highlighted by the work my team is doing in the Hunter Valley at the moment. Unfortunately, one of the families we work with had their house burn down. They escaped with nothing, but the clothes on their back.

Without even giving an order, my team had brought the family in and had taken steps to get them back into permanent housing. They had also taken steps to act as a central point for donations to the family.

As I write this, we have heard about community members coming forward to donate what they can to the family that has lost everything. Youth Off The Streets is often used as a central point for the community to come together, but it is up to the individuals to take this opportunity and create something positive. In the Hunter Valley, we have been overwhelmed by the generous community response. The social inclusion message is getting through.

On Australia Day, we celebrate what it means to be Australian. We are a multicultural, inclusive society and every year Youth Off The Streets attempts to bring communities together for a common good. We are getting better at it as a society. Let’s continue to include in 2015.

Help us grow

Be the first to know about upcoming opportunities, appeals and events.

Our Platinum Supporter