This Is Us Australia arises out of my concerns about a rise in racist and populist attitudes and fears of difference, as well as a polarisation of community views and debates, both in Australia and overseas.
On February 1, 2017 I heard Rebecca Huntley, social researcher and author of Still Lucky, being interviewed by Richard Fidler on Radio National. She said that more Australian stories need to be told that capture the benefits of multiculturalism (41 min mark). I immediately began thinking about the stories of people I know from minority religious and ethnic backgrounds, but soon that thought widened out to the stories of anyone who might find themselves labelled as ‘other’ or ‘them’.
In response, I have established the This Is Us Australia project. The project interviews willing members of the Australian community with a migration story, be this one of coming to Australia or being born here to parents who migrated. The project is also keen to interview people with other stories of difference. It aims to foster understanding, challenge stereotypes and present a broad and diverse picture of who “we” are as Australians. I believe we have more in common that we imagine and that our differences can enrich our shared experience of life in Australia.
In 2017 I interviewed 20 people, ranging in age from 9 to 70+, representing migration from at least sixteen countries, with many inspiring stories of discovery, change and contribution, including that of one participant who discovered his indigenous identity. The project will continue in 2018, podcasting interviews.
Participants are asked a small number of pre-agreed questions. Interviews are posted on this project website, the podcast hosting site, Facebook and Twitter. If you or someone you know might be interested in being interviewed and you would like to know more about what it involves, please consider the Project Description.
Sharon Southwell, Project Co-ordinator
Sharon Southwell lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she works as a psychologist. She has a longstanding interest in the place of connection, compassion and contribution in mental health and flourishing. She has written a book on this topic, The Life of Love: An Invitation (2014).