I was lucky enough to have grown up in a town that was multicultural. My friends were Australian aboriginals, Asians, Chinese, Greeks, anglo-Australians. Our names were Theodopolous’, Portaminis’, Chins, Nguyens and Johnsons but these differences did not divide us – we were just the Darwin bush mob. We were all just mates!
I never felt that I was anything else but just a Darwin girl. My skin colour did not determine who I was. My parents brought me up but a community raised me. As well as my parents, I called a Cypriot man, dad, an anglo- Australian woman from Alice Springs, mum. I had siblings who were part Aboriginal and part Japanese. Maori, Chinese and Torres Strait islander aunties and uncles and cousins, an uncle who arrived to Australia in the wheel carriage of a WW II aircraft, an auntie who was really an uncle (but damn she had good legs), my childhood was filled with different colours and different races but we didn’t see any of that – we were just family. This was the Australia I grew up in, but it worries me that the Australia my children will return to is not the same. Australia today, is a place where the hysteria of terrorism and politician’s voices have closed doors to acceptance. I am not saying that we should ignore the threat of violence to our shores but we have become a society that is scared and intolerable to what is different. We have gone back to the days of the ‘white Australia’ policy, days of old where a town like Darwin was segregated, where people were differentiated by their skin colour not their heart.
I remember my mother telling me the story of my younger sister, pouring a whole tub of talcum powder over herself because she wanted to be white like her godmother. She would have been just over a year old but she saw the difference in their colour and wanted to be like the woman she loved and admired.
For those of us that have moved to Australia and want to make Australia our new home and for those of us that are second or third generation non-anglo Australian, how much talcum powder do we need to put on ourselves before we are again accepted for just who we are, and not our colour or religion? Because in the end, we just want to be loved and admired, just like you.