The 2019 Australia Day Breakfast was hosted on Friday 25 January at the NGV in the heart of Melbourne’s Art’s Precinct. Australian Unity’s marquee event was chosen to run adjacent to the traditional 26 January holiday, out of respect for a growing discussion to change the date of Australia’s national day.
Australian Unity CEO, Rohan Mead, spoke at the event acknowledging the date change discussion as important, something Australian Unity supports respectfully and encouraged a day of celebration without the fractious politics surrounding the 26th.
After a traditional indigenous Welcome to Country from Uncle Dave Wandin and a brief talk on the rich history of Aboriginal Australia’s protection of our environment, the event proceeded to welcome noted Australian singer/songwriter Claire Bowdich, who captivated the crowd with soothing vocals and entertaining banter.
Moving into the keynote speakers, the themes for the morning’s event came to the fore.
Australian media personality, journalist and SBS broadcaster, Lee Lin Chin, was the keynote speaker and spent her time behind the lectern talking about what it means to be Australian. With her rich experience in media and news journalism, Lee Lin was able to weave her unmistakable wit and charisma into her story of immigration and integration into Australian society.
She spoke of the importance of welcoming those from overseas, and the need for Australia to put its arrogance aside to see our own fortune for being here in this country today.
“I’m lucky enough to call this country my home, and even luckier in the fact I was able to choose it as my home. A privilege that many, as we speak, are denied.”
Describing Australia as an “egalitarian melting pot of cultures” she noted that we live in “sad and trying times” where there was little we as a community could agree on, referencing the damage that the rise of fake news has had on the public.
Discussing the need for reflection in the global context of celebrating national identity, Lee Lin reminded us that:
“On a day of commemoration and celebration for all Australians we must endeavour to be more considerate and sensitive, and less arrogant perhaps. More open spirited. We must take time to hear what others have to say before jumping to conclusions and making judgements.”
With this, she finished her speech by urging people to examine where these thoughts and feelings come from, referencing her time as a broadcaster and duty to remain objective on political debates. In classic Lee Lin Chin fashion, she referenced how current political world leaders are destabilising this objectivity, and ended the formal breakfast to applause.
Some of the other noted guests included Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Kapp, Members of Parliament both federal and state, Head of Australian Bar Association Jennifer Batrouney QC, Aboriginal Elders and other business professionals.