Why I Am Proud of Australian Businesses

by Chrysula on January 25, 2011 in story-telling,work life balance

It’s Australia Day in my home country. As for the past many years, I am in my current home country, the USA (land that I love). But indulge me in a short homage to the land of my birth and formative years.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed a barrage of tweets from me recently about the floods in Queensland, my home state. A disaster affected area the size of Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada combined was declared just 10 days ago. Or for you Europeans, all of Germany and France and a good chunk of Greece.

The chaos and horror left behind has been mind blowing. Hundreds and thousands of volunteers, including my family, have begun the giant task of cleaning up and rebuilding. As part of my family cared for children, kept their offices running, kept the home fires burning, made food for volunteers, donated needed items, and other critical tasks, others went to their bosses and asked for time off. All three of my brothers, who are big strong lads and therefore blokes you want to have on your clean up team, were able to negotiate time off work to get out and volunteer in the community.

Australian businesses who have donated and empowered their employees in this important way are to be congratulated. Expensive? In the short term. But an amazing tool for loyalty and engendering motivation amongst staff who might otherwise be sitting at their desks, achingly heart sick at the devastation whilst being trapped behind their computer and pretending like they care about the deadline that no longer matters.

Businesses being responsive on these human levels have the capacity to generate real productivity in their grateful employees who come back renewed, knowing they have contributed, and ready to generate the vital economic energy that is the only real way to pull a country back from this level of a disaster.

In celebration of the giant hearts of all Australians and the shock and grief we feel right now, I share an iconic piece of Australian poetry that perfectly captures the rich and heartbreaking contrasts of this complex country. This is Australia. Happy Australia Day.

I Love A Sunburnt Country, by Dorothea Mackellar, 1904

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

(first stanza not included here)

If you would like to donate to the Queensland State Flood Appeal, please go here. Donation amounts are in Australian dollars.

* Edited to remove historical inaccuracy as to the genesis of the date of Australia Day. Thanks to Jillian for highlighting the sad state of my memory. Guess I’ve lived abroad for too, too long. Mr Shepherd, my 7th grade teacher would be unimpressed. Sigh.

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