Australia Day in Katanning

As I sang the national anthem alongside members of the Katanning community at the recent Australia Day celebrations, I looked around the faces in the crowd. Many were from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Unlike a lot of people, the newer arrivals standing near me knew the second verse to Advance Australia Fair and sang it with gusto. I often struggle to remember some of the lines, which is a shame because I think they reflect the idea of an inclusive nation so well.

Renowned of all the lands;

For those who’ve come across the seas

We’ve boundless plains to share;

With courage let us all combine

To Advance Australia Fair.

I was frequently reminded of the courage of so many refugees when I met up with several who had shared their stories in the book. It was particularly pleasing to see John Nazary again. John is a proud Hazara man from Afghanistan and as I said in my speech during the official celebrations – John’s story reminds me of the strength and endurance of the human spirit. It was good to hear his family continue to do well in Australia with their studies and work. One son, Zeify, is still enjoying international soccer success with Spanish club Malaga.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate Australia Day. The whole community once again made me feel very welcome. I was also pleased to see Zee Sultani recognised with a Citizenship Award for all her work in the community.

In Katanning, I see an Australia that I am proud to call my home.

Rose John and Lesley

Me, John Nazary and Lesley Balinski at the Katanning Australia Day celebrations