The Image of Australia
Dear blaze readers, by the time this edition ‘hits the streets’ we’ll be soaking up the ambience of northern neighbours – Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia.
Impending travel abroad and recent Australia Day celebrations caused me to reflect on ‘The Image of Australia’. That egregiously awful advertising campaign, “Where the bloody hell are ya?” is best consigned to the rubbish bin of history. It’s certainly NOT the image I chose to promote darling!
I’m reminded of an early Edna line, “The image of Australia is precious to us all, Ayres Rock, the mighty Yarra and the Warringah Shopping Mall”. Love ’em or hate ’em, Barry and stable mates Dame Edna and Sir Les, now retiring, are masters/mistress of satire and foster that invaluable quality of laughing at ourselves. I do have ideological issues with Humphries but believe he’s added immeasurably to our culture and should be awarded Australian of the Year before he leaves the planet. Edna has been hugely important for me as role model!
Speaking of Australian of the Year, I’m delighted with the selection of Ita. With her huge public profile I applaud her contribution to public service and charitable causes. In those dark, early days of HIV/AIDS, when fear and misinformation abounded, as Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS her profile and commitment were invaluable in helping to allay anxieties and foster a rational approach. Now 71, and looking fabulous, she’s ‘going in to bat’ for Australian seniors. She’s a great advocate of health promotion strategies from ‘cradle to grave’; a worthy winner with her long-time commitment to the commonweal.
In her acceptance speech Ita stated it was one of the proudest moments of her life, that she was “truly honoured” to be following in the footsteps of so many distinguished Australians. Initiated in 1960, I was fascinated to examine recipients of the award. With four times as many men as women, the greatest number of recipients, by a slim margin, comes from ‘the professional classes’, particularly health/medicine it seems. Then follow sportspeople with 13 awards. Naturally ‘The Arts’ doesn’t fare as well with only 11 (this is Australia!) and includes greats such as Dame Joan, Patrick, Sir Robert and Arthur. There are 8 prominent indigenous recipients including SA great Lowitja O’Donoghue. 5 Nobel Laureates are included and 3 ‘winners’ we known to be queer – Patrick, Bobby and Dawn.
Dear readers, ah, ‘The Image of Australia’: what do we make of ‘First Bloke’ Tim’s health promotion message for men, in which he publicly suggested in front of an international audience, that blokes chose a small female Asian doctor for their digital examination? Oops! What does it say about his values? Sexist? Racist? ‘Digitophobic’?’ Homophobic?