My Australia has rolling hills, dotted with sturdy gum trees. The sandy coloured peaks layer against the bright blue sky. White clouds gently ride on the cool afternoon breezes. The days are long and lazy. The vistas make you sigh incredulously: “Gosh, it’s beautiful here”.

My Australia has turquoise oceans as far as the eyes can see. Waves roll on; one, two, three. “Quick kick your legs, grab the wave. That’s it, that’s it – yehaaar”. The sand burns your feet and infiltrates every crevice of your salty body. Seagulls gather like vultures to snag a chip. Hair blows into your melted Sunny Boy. The sun sets like a red flame on the horizon.

My Australia is perfect one day and flawed the next.

My Australia is built on its geographic credentials, its stunning landscape and envious weather, yet our Prime Minister doesn’t believe climate change is a threat or our forests are important. People still have to chain themselves to things to protect our living resources, because those who are meant to safeguard our planet for our further generations are too busy having long lunches with media magnates and business leaders.

My Australia is built on freedom and a fair go for all, except if you come on a leaky boat fleeing  persecution and then you don’t even get a fair trial. Or if your eyes are “funny” or you skin a different colour and you “take our jobs”, then you should go home to where you came from.

My Australia thinks everyone deserves a helping hand and digs deep in times of disaster. People rally together to help those less fortunate or facing death. Aside from the delinquents in the ghettos or the homeless or the custodians in the remote communities, they’re “lazy” and should just get a job and lay off the booze. Put them in jail, where they won’t even be equally protected or represented by the law.

My Australia was founded by white people in boats who killed off the savages. Except those “savages” were people with a rich, vibrant and long history who lived in harmony with the land and now fight to keep their culture alive. People who have helped shaped this nation of ours and deserve more.

My Australia is built on mateship, yet mates stay silent when they hit their girlfriends or stalk their exes. They don’t step in when they wolf whistle at women or take advantage of them when they’re drunk. What goes on footy trip, stays on footy trip. They don’t take their drunk mate home before they king hit a stranger. One punch is all it takes.

My Australia think eccentricity is to be celebrated, yet mental health to be silenced. Be yourself, yet don’t whinge. Be a man, don’t show your vulnerabilities. It’s less shameful to kill yourself than get help. There’s too much pressure to conform, yet an expectation to always be yourself. Contradiction rules, ok?

My Australia believes in giving kids the freedom to play and explore, yet they don’t step in when they think kids are in danger at the hands of their own carers. Kids left in squalor, silently living in fear, completely alone. And what about education and medical help? Have you seen how much it costs to study or go to a doctor these days, particularly if you live in the country? A fair go for all – my arse.

My Australia is a wealthy nation for some. For many, they will never pull themselves out of poverty. The rains will never come. They are forever forgotten. Welfare must be earned, so too must a MP’s pension. Perhaps if we cut more aid and services to those that are too lazy to help themselves we will be able to pump up our superannuation so we can take longer retirements?

My Australia has a vibrant economy, if you’re middle class and middle aged. If you’re too old you can think twice about getting a job that recognises your skill set. You must try harder, perhaps a job stacking shelves will do? Actually, if you’re too young you can also forget about getting a job, full stop. Youth unemployment isn’t a trend, it’s an institution. And even if you’re “just right” you’ll probably worry every day that you’ll get restructured.

My Australia is a place where love is cherished, except if it’s between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Marriage is only for “proper couples”, so too is divorce. Love is love, as long as it’s the right kind and you should feel afraid to be who you are in case those that “love” you get offended. Bullying is ok, if it’s for the right reasons, particularly if it’s done anonymously.

My Australia has had a female Prime Minister and Governor General, yet the cut of their suit or colour of their hair was bigger news. Women walk uncovered and are encouraged to be anything they want, just don’t expect to get paid the same amount as men or be afforded the same opportunities if you also want to have children. Feminism is a dirty word. Get the tennis player to twirl in her skirt because it’s the only way women’s sport will be viewed in this sports crazy nation of ours.

My Australia is an amazing country which has everything going for it. It is an enviable place to live. It is beautiful and awesome. It has wonderful qualities. There are many people who do kind and progressive things, who make real changes and help those who find it hard to help themselves. There are many organisations that fight to make this special place, better for everyone, no matter what gender or religion or race or sexual orientation they are. They believe in equality for all and help make Australia unique.

My Australia is my home and I love living here, but it needs a swift kick up the bum. It needs to take off its blinkers and grow a bigger brain. It needs to step out of the “way things were done” and find a new path to travel. Empathy and inclusiveness and understanding need to be taught, because fear and ignorance seems to be winning.

My Australia, although amazing for some, still has a long way to go, so it’s amazing for all. My Australia makes me proud and ashamed in equal measures.

Bianca x