By Michael Giles

PEOPLE coming to Australia from overseas to live here should get lessons in what it means to be Australian.
And you know what… so should the rest of us!
As we approach Australia Day, on Sunday, January 26, we can all afford the time to stop for a moment and think about what it means to be an Australian, whether we go out and celebrate the day with the community, simply put our feet up and relax for the Long Weekend, or object to January 26 being designated as our National Day.
So, what does it mean to be an Australian, and what are the values and responsibilities we’d like to see everyone in our community adopt?
What we have seen in the past few months, in response to the bushfire crisis, is the very essence of what we all want to see and participate in as Australians.
The efforts of our CFA volunteers, and all those who have volunteered to care for wildlife, fix fences, donate and transport hay, and clean-up makes us all feel proud, especially if we actually know someone involved.
Volunteerism is a great quality in Australia and we all need to commit to free service to our community; as a netball or football coach, hospital visitor or fundraiser, service club member, school committee person and, definitely as a member of the CFA, SES or Red Cross.
In fact, if you’re not volunteering, you’re not Australian. If you don’t involve yourself in making your community a better place, we don’t want you. It’s time to step up and do something for someone else for a change.
And all those people who’ve answered the call to donate cash, fodder and other goods… they’re real Australians too.
That’s part of what it takes but who knows what it really means to be an Australian. Maybe it’s time the government wrote it all down on a piece of paper for us all to read and memorize.
And volunteerism should go right there on top of the list.
It’s the same rules and responsibilities for everyone regardless of race, colour and creed … or bugger off!