Father Chris Riley on Australia Day

February 9, 2016

The theme for Australia Day this year is “everyone, everywhere”. Whether you’re in a city or regional area it is important to come together to celebrate what is so great about being Australian. I am proud to be the Australian Day Ambassador in Taree. Country towns are excellent places to travel to on this special day, as they really celebrate what it means to be Australian and so many come together in celebration.

I am reminded of a comment made by our patron and previous Governor General Sir William Deane saying many years ago – “we as a nation will be judged by the way we treat our most vulnerable” and we have many vulnerable who are forgotten and isolated.

Australia, at its best, is how we come together at times of tragedy and loss. This year we have already witnessed the damaging effect of bushfires ravaging across Australia, destroying more than a hundred homes and claiming the lives of several people.*

These are times that test the spirit and strength of a nation, and every time, Australians have pulled together to make a difference and help those that have been affected by these disasters. We have seen people in Australia putting the wellbeing of other Australians before their own, we have seen victims helping other victims, and we have seen people with very little giving to assist others who have lost loved ones and their homes.

We have also witnessed our courageous fire-fighters who year after year put themselves at risk and our police officers who are the line between the good and criminal elements. And then there are groups such as Lions Clubs,  Rotary Clubs, Country Women’s League, Catholic Women’s’ League and so many others groups and individuals who make great contributions to the community.

It is the generous commitment of all of these individuals that make me proud to be a part of this country.

This Australia Day, I encourage you to spare a moment for the people that have given their lives and donated their time to fighting the recent bushfires and to think about what being Australian is about.

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