Think Global, Act Local: Australia as a Global Citizen

As well as building national unity through cultural diversity, we take a look at how Australia seeks to be a good neighbour and responsible global citizen

By United Nations Association of Australia

Global Citizenship

United Nations Flag (2018-12-27) by UN Photo/Evan SchneiderUnited Nations Association of Australia

Peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet

Together with the overarching values enshrined in the UN Charter—respect for fundamental human rights, social justice and human dignity, and respect for the equal rights of men and women—living in peace and maintaining a healthy environment are core aspirations of the United Nations. As global citizens, we must try to reflect these values in our everyday actions.

Assembly Elects Five New Non-Permanent Members of Security Council (2012-10-18) by UN Photo/Evan SchneiderUnited Nations Association of Australia

Integrity, professionalism and respect for diversity

No organisation is perfect, but as a global body, the UN aspires to be fair, accountable, inclusive and transparent wherever it operates. Here, empty ballot boxes are held up to view prior to a vote in the Security Council.

Special Event Marking World Humanitarian Day (2015-08-18) by UN Photo/Cia PakUnited Nations Association of Australia

The spirit of humanitarianism

Australian singer/songwriter Cody Simpson performs at UN Headquarters in celebration of World Humanitarian Day. Held on August 19th, it commemorates those who provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need. In 2016-17, Australia contributed humanitarian assistance in 44 countries, including Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Fiji. 

Food distribution Arbakeramso Wajir Kenya (2019) by Scott Kelleher/AusAIDUnited Nations Association of Australia

Partnership, collaboration and solidarity

International cooperation is at the heart of the UN Charter, and a core Australian value. Aussies are generous supporters of charitable causes. Here, DFAT-funded food supplies are delivered to the UN World Food Programme, which this year won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to combat hunger and uphold the fundamental right to food around the world.

Mr Paolo Totaro AM with the Participation Report (2017) by Cassandra McBride, Multicultural NSWUnited Nations Association of Australia

Multicultural at heart

In 1977, NSW Premier Neville Wran invited Dr. Paolo Totaro AM to examine case studies across schools, workplaces and more to inform recommendations on implementing multiculturalism. The resulting landmark Participation Report included a recommendation to establish the Ethnic Affairs Commission (now Multicultural NSW) as a permanent government authority.    

Secretary-General of United Nations Visits Australia (1995-04-26) by UN PhotoUnited Nations Association of Australia

An Australian first in New South Wales

In 1992, NSW became the first jurisdiction in Australia to enshrine the principles of cultural diversity in State law. The 2000 Act recognises cultural, linguistic and religious diversity as a valuable resource for the development of the State. During his visit to Australia in 1995, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (2002-2006) addressed a Global Cultural Diversity Conference held by Multicultural NSW.

Professor Peter Shergold AC and participants in refugee and migrant youth policy initiative (2019-08-02) by Kimberly Ko, Multicultural NSWUnited Nations Association of Australia

Learning from lived experience

NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement, Professor Peter Shergold AC (L) works with Multicultural NSW to improve settlement outcomes for refugees. This includes addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on temporary visa holders, supporting refugee employment, promoting settlement in regional NSW, and engaging young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in policymaking informed by lived experience.

Parramasala (2018) by Salty Dingo, Multicultural NSWUnited Nations Association of Australia

Multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion

Hundreds of events and festivals happen across NSW each year, bringing together communities to learn about, share and celebrate our diverse cultures. Parramasala began in Western Sydney in 2010 and over a decade has grown to be one of the largest multicultural festivals in the state.

Religious Communities Forum at Bahá'í Temple (2017) by Elizabeth McFarlane, Multicultural NSWUnited Nations Association of Australia

Tolerance and acceptance

The Religious Communities Forum leaders gather in different places of worship to symbolise their openness to learning about each other, working together, and building connections. The Temple is intended to foster unity among people and inspire visitors to build a peaceful global society, making it a fitting venue for the forum. 

Pasifika Youth Festival (2005) by Warren Duncan, Multicultural NSWUnited Nations Association of Australia

Pride in cultural identity

The NSW Youth Partnership with Pacific Communities (YPPC) addressed the needs of Pacific communities from 2005 to 2007. It established an annual Pasifika Youth Day to strengthen pride in culture and provide pathways to leadership for young people.

Holding Earth in Our Hands (2020-04-22) by UN Photo/Manuel ElíasUnited Nations Association of Australia

Partners for sustainable development

Finding effective solutions to complex global problems requires cooperation. Working together in partnership is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and Australians have an important role to play, at home and abroad.

Secretary-General Plants Tree in Australian Area Destroyed by Bushfire (2011-09-08) by UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeUnited Nations Association of Australia

Caring for Country, caring for our children

Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. By caring for the environment and tackling inequality today, Australians are helping to ensure intergenerational equity.

COVID-19 Response - Pacific (2020) by Aaron Ballekom/DFATUnited Nations Association of Australia

Being a good neighbour

COVID-19 has heightened the challenges of achieving the 2030 agenda. Australia's regional response to the pandemic aims to drive recovery through action on health, security, stability, economic recovery and by protecting the most vulnerable, especially women and girls.

UNHQ Prepares for Staff Returning During COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-05-27) by UN Photo/Manuel EliasUnited Nations Association of Australia

Building back better

To overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, green and inclusive recovery should be at the forefront. It’s an opportunity to rethink business-as-usual, put the world on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and work together to create the ‘World We Want.’ 

#UN75 (2020) by UNAAUnited Nations Association of Australia

Act, volunteer, donate to make a difference

Get involved in achieving the 2030 Agenda, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and building back better. Volunteer with a local organisation. Learn more about the UNAA and how you can be part of the change you want to see in the world.

Discover 15 facts you probably didn't know about Australia's involvement in the United Nations.

Credits: Story

Created by the United Nations Association of Australia (NSW) to celebrate 75 years of the United Nations and the untold stories of Australia's involvement, in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New South Wales Government agency Multicultural NSW, using photographs supplied by project partners and sourced from UN Photo.

With special thanks to the UNAA UN75 curation team:
Tahnia Alludin
Maddie Gilholme
Luke Raisin
Sahera Sumar
Andrea Spencer-Cooke

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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