On January 25, the 17th annual G’Day USA Los Angeles dinner brought together prominent Australian and Americans from film, television, music, business, sports, and culture to support relief and recovery efforts in response to the Australian bushfires. The evening saw Australians and Americans rally together in support of those affected, and Australia’s unique land and wildlife. All funds raised from the event were directed to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund and Australian Wildlife Fire Fund established by G’Day USA founding partner, the American Australian Association.
Former G’Day USA honoree, Hugh Jackman, introduced a compilation of messages of support from across the United States emphasizing the special relationship between our countries with messages of perseverance, rehabilitation, and recovery.
Hugh Sheridan hosted the evening which paid tribute to the brave Australian and American firefighters working side by side to battle the fires and honored those Australians and Americans who have lost their lives.
Multiple award-winning artist Delta Goodrem gave an emotional performance of her latest single “Let It Rain” against a backdrop of images from the bushfire crisis. The song was written in the wake of the bushfire crisis and served as a beautiful tribute to all those battling the blaze.
A highlight of the evening came from U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Chief Josh Mathieson. Chief Mathieson had just returned from deployment in Australia where he worked together with Australian firefighters to battle the bushfires. “We wanted to help our friends in Australia. When we were dealing with the devastating fires in California in 2018, our Australian firefighters came to our aid and we wanted to return the favor.”
Australian wildlife expert and top-guide, Craig Wickham, spoke about rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. He shared uplifting stories from the field about the wildlife and vegetation beginning to come back to affected areas. This message of hope for the recovery ahead was echoed in a video message from the Irwin Family, which shared with attendees, “My father called Wildlife Warriors, those who couldn’t speak for themselves and it is up to us to see out this mission….Thank you all for your support and for being wildlife warriors. It’s time for us to come together for our wildlife.”
John Travolta and Oliva Newton-John took the stage to share their favorite things about Australia, by saying, “The people of Australia have this incredible ability to take responsibility for each other, as they have with these fires… and they take it to the world. To be responsible for others and see the global picture, and it deeply moves me….The beaches, the bay, the Great Barrier Reef, it’s all utterly amazing,” shares John Travolta. The duo encouraged everyone to support Australia by visiting soon highlighting the many areas that have not been affected by the fires. Olivia Newton-John commented, “We can all support the people and wildlife of Australia. It’s tragic but the Ozzies have the spirit and we thank everyone for their support.”
Paul Hogan uplifted the audience with comedic take encouraging people to come to visit Australia saying, “It’s a big beautiful continent down there, and we’d love to see ya.”
Colin Hay also performed his iconic Men at Work song “Land Down Under,” much to the crowd’s delight.
To keep the Aussie rocking going, Joel Madden introduced chart-toppers 5 Seconds of Summer performed their hit songs “Youngblood” and “Red Desert”, a song that holds a special place in their hearts as they wrote it while in Australia, exactly a year ago today.
The evening ended with a rousing and emotional singing of “I Still Call Australia Home.” Begun by Colin Hay, the number saw Hugh Sheridan, Delta Goodrem, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Paul Hogan, Baiwa Kazil, Sharna Burgess, and the whole room stand and join in song, solidifying the close bond between the U.S. and Australia.
G’Day USA is Australia’s premier public, economic and cultural diplomacy program in the United States. Produced by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australian Trade Commission, Tourism Australia, Qantas Airways and the American Australian Association, G’Day USA was first launched in 2004 and has since grown to become one of the largest public diplomacy programs run by any country in the United States. For further information about G’Day USA 2020 events, including location and ticketing details, plus a complete list of partners, sponsors, and participants, visit www.gdayusa.org. Or find us on Facebook: @GDayUSA, Instagram: @GDayUSA or Twitter: @GDayUSAofficial