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There’s a push for Australia to have more public holidays to reflect the country’s multiculturalism

Rachel Lang

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There’s a push for Australia to have more public holidays to reflect the country’s multiculturalism

A think tank has revealed that more Australians want the government to shake up the nation's public holidays system to reflect the growing melting pot of cultures found in the country.

Public holidays in Western society tend to reflect Christian and Catholic traditions like Christmas and Easter.

This seems to now be out of step Down Under, as the country no longer has a Christian-majority population.

The 2021 census revealed only 44 per cent of Aussies identify as Jesus-worshippers.

When you compare that figure to the last census in 2016, which came in at 61 per cent, it's a pretty big decline.

This is what the inside of a Hillsong Church looks like. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
This is what the inside of a Hillsong Church looks like. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Data collated in the 2018 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey revealed one quarter of Aussies attend a Christian church once each year, if that.

The shift has been so drastic that policy think tank the Lowy Institute is now questioning if Australia should add on extra holidays out of respect for other beliefs and cultures.

Hey, a day off for any reason is good news in our book.

Australia has a global reputation for laid-back larrikinism, but in reality it is our Indo-Pacific neighbours that get more time off.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have more days off as they celebrate traditions from other cultures like Diwali, the Lunar New Year, and Eid.

The Lowy Institute report found there is merit to the idea of adding a few extra cheeky bank holidays to Australia's calendar.

According to the Scanlon Foundation’s 2022 Mapping Social Cohesion report, 69 per cent of people agreed that Aussies should do more to learn about other cultures and customs that exist within Australia.

Aside from Australia, the other top countries of birth are China, India, and the Philippines, all of which have alternate religions to Christianity.

Annual Hindu Diwali festival of light celebrations. Credit: Vehbi Koca / Alamy
Annual Hindu Diwali festival of light celebrations. Credit: Vehbi Koca / Alamy

The report said: "There has already been discussion about making Diwali a public holiday and, given Australia already likes to boast that Sydney has one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations outside of Asia, it seems like a no brainer to embrace them as Australian public holidays."

The report went on to add that it would send a clear message to our Western democratic counterparts.

In the words of Bob Dylan: “The times, they are a-changin'.”

The Lowy Institute's report added: "In an era where concerns about illiberalism and intolerance across the globe are growing, it would be a powerful symbolic statement from a Western liberal democracy."

So, we have a challenge for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese: make it happen.

We're a patchwork nation of other cultures and influences from aboard Down Under.

Also, it'd be bloody un-Australian not to.

Featured Image Credit: YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo. Paul Kingsley / Alamy.

Topics: Australia, News, Politics

Rachel Lang
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