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Is Easter still significant in Australia?

Australia is home to many cultures, so the way we celebrate and think about Easter continues to develop and change as well. For some, Easter is at the centre of their faith, and for others, it’s a rare opportunity to relax over a long weekend. 

This week on Helping Hands, Keith Garner, former Superintendent of Wesley Mission; Raewyn Elsegood, from Sports Chaplaincy Australia; and Darren Thomas, Military Serviceman and Vice Chair of Military Christian Fellowship; join Laura Bennett to discuss the significance of Easter to Australians today. 

During the discussion, Keith refers to an annual Easter Sunrise Service he hosted from the Sydney Opera House for 15 years. He fondly the enjoyable and memorable experience, however it was the perfect example of Easter meaning different things to different people. Keith remembers watching the last long weekend party-going stragglers mixing with the faithful early risers keen to attend the Easter Sunrise Service every year. 

For Keith personally, Easter is the centre of his Christian beliefs.  

“I think it’s the most important time in the whole year... There’s something about the pull of Easter that makes people think about what happened to Jesus, (and) what Jesus Christ means to the world … I can’t think of anything that’s more exciting, more demanding, more calling than Easter.” 

Raewyn says that no matter where she is and what she’s doing, Easter is one of the most significant times of the year for her and will always be present in her mind. However, as a mum, sport chaplain and sport enthusiast, the Easter long weekend is also a valued break from the regular weekend routines. It’s a time to get away, and an opportunity for Aussies to enjoy their favourite sports. 

“Good Friday and Easter Monday have AFL and NRL games consistently ... I have found myself on Easter Monday at an Eels game … yet I am a Christian, I have a faith, but I can walk that faith anywhere,” she said. 

Darren adds that in the military, Easter looks significantly different, drawing on his experience while deployed in Afghanistan. 

“Defence is different. It’s not (only) a job. We keep rolling, we keep working, and Easter is just another thing that we’re not home for.” 

“Afghanistan (is) about as close to the Biblical setting as one could get. The chaplain did a parade of the cross... The symbolical relevance of carrying a cross across the Afghan desert in the 40-degree heat was massive... For me, (the significance of) Easter changed completely overnight … I can’t express how important (Easter) is … For anyone who is deployed, (Easter is a reminder) to take time and reflect for yourself, give thanks for protective body armour, a family who loves you, friends who care for you.” 

Raewyn recognises that not all Australians celebrate Easter, but for those who do, it’s an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate our culture differences as well. 

“We’re very culturally diverse as a group of Australians now, and hence I think we are all very respectful of each other’s beliefs and faith, and we’re happy to harmoniously walk alongside each other … there is a huge respect, I think, from Australians, for what people believe.” 


See the EASTER discussion and the full catalogue of Helping Hands panels at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.  

_ _ _

* Our panellists, Keith Garner, Raewyn Elsegood and Darren Thomas, and the Helping Hands producers are available for interview on radio, TV and online to discuss this topic. Get in touch at


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