I am an Australian and I host the “Aussie, Kiwi and South Pacific Atheists” group on AN as well as another working group of Australian AN members who have just submitted a 300 page submission on religion to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

I began my career as a secretary. Later, I studied sales and marketing and moved into executive positions in some of Australia’s largest international companies. I have organized several large international conferences and have been a guest speaker at conferences around Australia (mainly on tourism marketing).

After retiring from the business world due to poor health, I entered university as a mature age student (stupidly thinking that would be less stressful!). I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in literature, history, social science and cultural studies. I achieved a First Class Honours Degree for my thesis on “Celtic Identity in Multicultural Australia” and was awarded the University Medal for Academic Excellence. I won two scholarships to complete a PhD but had to abandon it two years in, due to ill health. I am now fully retired and live with my elderly mother in a small mountain village about two hours drive from Brisbane, Queensland. I continue to do some PR and media work on a voluntary basis.


I attended a private church school, but apart from a brief flirtation in my teens (both with Christianity and the minister’s son), I have never really been a Christian. Members of my family, however, belong to the Assemblies of God church. I have been interested in the literary history of religion for around 20 years. Although I have read extensively, I still don’t rate myself as an expert by any means.

I am a member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Brisbane Atheist's Meetup group, and a founding member of my local area's atheist group.

I also have several atheist-themed blogs on myspace, which can be linked to from my AN About Me page.

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Tags: Australians, Kristy Vensson

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Hi Kristy! It sounds like you had some misfortune with your illness, but used it to your advantage for your education. I bet if you have been reading the history of religion for twenty years you know about a thousand times more about religion as the average theist. Too bad most of them don't take the time to learn how religion evolved, and use that to knowledge to evolve past it.
Hi Moonbeam, the problem with education is, the more you know, the more your realize you don't know! ;-)
Very impressive!

I hope to become more active on these forums -- finding them much more civil and pleasant than the other atheist forum I've participated on -- and hear some of your ideas. I'm sure they are interesting.

James
I have just posted the Introduction to our Human Rights submission as a blog - here.
Your thesis, “Celtic Identity in Multicultural Australia”, sounds very interesting. "Celtic identity" is one of my interests, but I've only read part of one book and things online.
Thanks Méabh. Unfortunately it's not available online, and the statistics are probably pretty outdated by now. The thesis was that for nearly the first 200 years of Australian history, the Celts (Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Isle of Man, Cornish) fought to be considered part of the mainstream group in Australia. This was especially difficult for the Irish who were kept apart from the mainstream because of their Catholicism. By the 1970s, Australia's Celts, including the Irish, were pretty well integrated into Australia's dominant Anglo-Celtic group and ethnic identities were subverted under the 'more important' push to assume an 'Australian identity'.

But, from the mid-70s, a new policy of multiculturalism was formulated and ethnic (meaning Greek, Italian, Asian, Middle-Eastern) groups were encouraged to celebrate rather than assimilate and were provided with government grants to do so. Further, ethnic councils were formed with unprecedented access to the government. Being 'ethnic' became fashionable, profitable and politically useful.

Under these conditions, the Celts began to reclaim their 'ethnic culture', form their own 'ethnic' clubs and seek the same government grants and access to influence that the other groups had. The heads of these Celtic groups then became eligible to run as heads of the 'ethnic councils'. So, a move that was meant to provide more power to marginalized ethnic groups in Australia, quickly became exploited by those Celtic ethnic groups which already formed part of the mainstream, dominant group.

Culturally, Celtic clubs sprang up all around Australia, Irish pubs became all the rage, a replica Stonehenge was built in a country town to provide the focus for an annual 'Celtic festival', and a Scottish festival was initiated in another town. So, after nearly 200 years of trying to 'fit in' with the dominant group, when 'ethnic' became something that attracted money and power, suddenly the Celts re-assumed their cultural identities and said, "Hey! We're ethnic too!"
I shocked my tutor by studying "They're a Weird Mob" for my course work when writing that thesis ;-) It was considered rather 'low brow', but I agree, there are similarities. It is considered an Australian classic, but not exactly 'literature' if you know what I mean.

My mum and dad actually used to be friends with John O'Grady the author of (he used the pseudonym Nino Culotta). John was a bit of a flirt and he used to call my mum, 'Red'.

The book is a bit of a caricature of Australia and Australians but certainly had some elements of truth. Of course, these would be more accurate for the 60s than they are now in 2009.

I'd have to read the book again to comment further - it's been over 10 years since I studied it.
Well, I think I was all of seven when Mum and Dad were hobnobbing with John O'Grady up in the Whitsunday Islands. I can hardly claim to 'know' him.

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