A man threatens police at Cronulla Beach  in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005, after ethnic tensions erupted into running battles between police and a mob of thousands of youths, many chanting racial slurs. At least six people were arrested and several injured in alcohol-fueled fights at the beach. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Ten years on, Have we learnt? – Opinion

Ten years ago today, Australia had one of its lowest points ever. We went from a nation of immigrants working together to make a future for ourselves, to a group of angry misguided people. We were blind to see the friendly neighbour who happens to be from another country, is here to do the same as you – prospoer.


“For those who’ve come across the seas

We’ve boundless plains to share;

With courage lets us all combine

To advance Australia Fair.”


That’s how it goes, I think? Some people don’t know the second verse of our national anthem, but on that day, some people acted as if it wasn’t even written.

The Cronulla riots brought to the surface the deep and complex racial conflicts that exist within some parts of the western section of Australian society. Gladly, not all people feel this way. However, some still do, and it’s sad to see that they have no scope to co-exist with their fellow humans, because that’s who the riots were targeting; fellow humans, not aliens or an invading army.

I woke today and sat with my morning coffee to see on the news that the Supreme Court had banned an attempt at rekindling the fires of the riots. Still to my amazement, someone had decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate the anniversary of the riots with a public march. March for what? Racism? Hatred? Social division? Disharmony?

How about a march for peace? Let’s march in recognition of the progress we have made in the last ten years. Albeit clouded at the moment under the fog of international events. Australia has moved in a positive direction with our tolerances and acceptance of race. There is always work to be done, though. I’m proud to say that one of the smartest and funniest personalities I follow on television and social media is a Muslim man. Waleed Aly has done great work to elevate the level of channel Ten’s, The Project, and bring complex and important issues to the masses in an easily digestible manner. His wife Susan Carland, is doing important work to teach unaware people about the peace and caring nature of Islam, especially when it involves the suggestion that Muslim women are oppressed or controlled. Ten years ago, I don’t think Australia would have accepted a Muslim man on prime time television. Now look where we are.

I hope this is a small sign of the great things to come in Australia, and I am also grateful to hear that the people in power, the Supreme Court, are ensuring that hatred is quashed before it gets a chance to grow.


In the words of Hilltop Hoods – “Peace, Love, and Unity.”


Jake Cupitt