The Community Council for Australia (CCA) released ‘The Australia We Want’, report in October. It asks us to imagine a different kind of Australia than the one we have now. One based on creativity, sustainability, kindness and generosity, where innovation and achievement comes from the ground up, in our schools, communities, and within local groups.
Rev Tim Costello, as the chair, writes in the report, ‘Imagine a humane and sustainable Australia, where people are more connected and engaged in the communities they live and work in, and where this involvement is reflected in the way we form policies and laws? Imagine a generous and kind Australia where we take pride in supporting the less fortunate in our own communities, in our region and beyond? Imagine the Australia we want.’
He suggests that now is the time for us to ask questions of others and ourselves about the kind of civil society we want to live in. That we need to have those conversations in our everyday lives, within our homes and families, in our social networks and within our community groups, in the streets and neighbourhoods where we live, and in our workplaces, so that we can share possibilities, build leadership, develop solutions and learn new ways of being.
Our world now tends to be focussed on worries, anxieties, fears and containment. It leaves little room for creating hopes and dreams. This creates a major imbalance in our society. Yes there are times when pessimism, doubts, worries and fears are useful, they can help us guard against errors, they can make us investigate further and they can keep us safe, but we can’t live in this condition all of the time. If we do, it becomes a problem for our health and wellbeing. We must balance this with a creative and learning mind, which builds and holds our hopes and helps us devise creative solutions to problems in a rapidly changing world.
‘The Australia We Want‘ report provides a comprehensive assessment of an emerging national agenda for change. It assesses Australia and the states against a range of benchmarks. The report reminds us that we have the power to change the outcomes and that, as Rev Tim Costello remarks, ‘We are much more than passengers in an economy’. Every individual, family, organisation, and community has a vital role to play.
As the report indicates (pp.22):
‘Not-for-profits are at the heart of our communities; building connection, nurturing spiritual and cultural expression, supporting the vulnerable and enhancing the productivity of all Australians.’
The ACE sector is a key pillar of the not for profit sector; it fosters opportunities, leadership and partnerships, to ensure a more just and sustainable future. Opportunities for community and adult education can bring about individual and social change. Adult Learning Australia is working with the ACE sector to pursue meaningful opportunities to make a difference.
Robert Theobald, an economist turned futurist, and partner to Anne Deveson’s, foresaw this critical moment in our history. In his paper, ‘The Healing Century’, written before his death in 1999, he states, ‘it is time to choose our future; that it is the time for courage and risks, and a time to argue for a higher vision of human purpose than what we have accepted in the past. It is time for us to face the challenges to resolve to meet them. This is the moment when the actions of each of us can make a profound difference’.
For me, ‘The Australia We Want‘ report highlights the need for a deeper form of learning that must be enacted now: the learning of the heart. One that can take us into a positive future, where fear and despair are replaced by hope and compassion.