Celebrating acts of courage overseas is part of the Australian way of life. Our war memorials celebrate Australians who tackled the international bullies of the past.
I have received WA Australian of the Year 2016 because of acts overseas that some see as courageous. These acts included helping to tackle an international bully called Ebola.
When I put my hand up to go to Sierra Leone to help in the fight against Ebola my family and I were not entirely sure I would be returning. But, I remember feeling it was the right thing to do, to help those people who were suffering so horribly. It was one of those moments that required us all to show a little courage and compassion to tackle a problem we faced. Fear led some to say it was an African problem. It was not an African problem, it was a global problem and so it was our problem.
Often the first step to being courageous is stopping yourself from saying a problem is someone else’s. It then becomes easier to become involved in the solution.
The courage to act is not just called upon when there are overseas disasters, that courage is displayed by many whenever we have a bushfire, when refugees need to be welcomed.
Rather than admiring the courage in others we need to seek to admire the courage in each of us as we take on the problems that surround us.
For me Ebola was just another problem that needed to be dealt with. In the end the courage to act conquered Ebola, and likewise courage to act can transform this great nation.
Sometimes we just need to take those few steps through the doors of the volunteer centre to ask what can I do. Sometimes we need to simply have courage to be supportive to those who are suffering such as a fellow worker being bullied. With a little practice many of us can find a voice to question and protest when we see injustice.