A lot can change in a decade.
People across the world have provided enough evidence over the past few weeks through the #10YearChallenge, which encourages social media users to share photos showing their personal growth from 2009 to now.
Normally the changes are superficial – acne, braces and those once-popular frosted tips have perhaps been given the heave-ho.
But this trend has The New Daily thinking. Forget Hollywood stars or your old high school best friend: How has Australia developed as a nation over the past decade?
Murray-Darling continues to dry up
Scores of dead fish, including century-old Murray cod, lining the banks of rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin have prompted swift political action in 2019’s first weeks.
But in 2009, the region was crippled by levels of drought that had extended from 2001, which prompted the Murray-Darling Basin plan in 2011. It contained guidelines on water extraction limits, a watering plan for the region and rules on water trading.
The interpretation of the basin plan has been called into question in the wake of the ongoing environmental disaster, with accusations of corruption and mismanagement extending from the Greens, the federal opposition and independent parliamentarians.
Security measures ramp up across the country
Ten years ago, Canberra Parliament House goers were free to roam the rolling grass lawns that also doubled as the roof of the ‘people’s house’.
But those were the times of greener pastures.
A controversial 2.6-metre security fence was installed in 2017, the product of rushed legislation that came in the wake of terror attacks against Canada’s parliament.
Its appearance was widely condemned among Canberra’s political elite, but its imminent presence failed to prevent parliament-goers from rolling down the slopes one last time in 2016.
it's appalling https://t.co/oWeTtOqCwB
— Michelle Grattan (@michellegrattan) September 12, 2017
The first attack on Melbourne’s Bourke Street in 2017 rocked a country that was already on edge from a series of vehicle-ramming incidents that occurred a year before in Nice and Berlin.
In response, concrete and metal bollards were installed across a number of key sites in the city, as well as in Sydney and Brisbane, to reduce the likelihood of repeat attacks.
Airport security has also been upgraded against the background of present fears of terror attacks, with full body scanners set to be installed at domestic airports (they are already present in international terminals).
Tighter restrictions on allowable liquids and carry-on luggage limits have also been imposed, with multiple airlines imposing strict weight limits to be applied when passengers check-in.
The Prime Ministerial merry-go-round
In 2009, Australia was run by a daggy dad in glasses. Ten years later, it looks like not much has changed.
Kevin Rudd assumed the top office job following his usurping of long-time prime minister John Howard in 2007, but what followed was, and continues to be, one of the most turbulent times in Australian politics.
Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister before a short-lived Rudd revival, and the Coalition wasn’t without its problems. Tony Abbott’s tenure was followed by Malcolm Turnbull, before our current PM Scott Morrison stepped up to the hot plate.
Great Barrier Reef in precarious state
The Great Barrier Reef remains one of the most fragile ecosystems under Australia’s watch, and was declared to be in ‘moderate condition’ in a 2009 Queensland government report.
But roughly half of shallow-water coral was killed in 2016 and 2017 – the first recorded incidence of back-to-back mass bleaching events.
Forecasts in 2018 predicted the natural wonder could be set for another mass coral bleaching event due to rising water temperatures.
Australia’s cricketing collapse
Where did it all go wrong for Australian cricket?
The squad of 2009 reads like a roll call of Australia’s most recent legends, including the likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael ‘Mr Cricket’ Hussey, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson.
And the squad was enjoying decent success. Australia topped the Test rankings, while holding its own within the top three on the one-day international (ODI) charts.
Fast forward 10 years, and it’s a different game.
The notorious 2018 ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal continues to have implications, and our fortunes on the ICC rankings have reflected the squad’s demise.
The good news? Australia’s women continue to fare better than their male counterparts. They top the rankings in both ODI and T20 forms.
What was hot on the small screen?
Netflix was not even on the radars of Australian culture vultures in 2009, with many audience members consuming content the old-fashioned way, on free-to-air and Pay-TV channels.
MasterChef kicked off its first season, crowning everyday Australian mum Julie Goodwin as its inaugural champion, while our obsession with the Melbourne underworld was thriving with Underbelly.
It was also the year of the ill-fated Hey Hey It’s Saturday reboot, which was the subject of a blackface controversy.
Tech transforms the country
It was a year where Australians were still getting accustomed to a new player in the emerging smartphone market – the original iPhone, with its home button firmly intact.
The App Store only launched the year prior, and Australians were finally given the luxury of having GPS capabilities embedded in their mobile devices.
A decade on, millions of apps are at the disposal of Australians who utilise the home button-less iPhone X.
Laws in motion
Marriage equality is entering its second year codified in Australian legislation, but it was a vastly different story looking back a decade.
The conversation was slowly kicking into gear, with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young introducing a private member’s bill to grant same-sex couples identical rights to their heterosexual counterparts.
It proceeded to a Senate inquiry, smashing records as it received more than 25,000 submissions – but the bill was resoundingly defeated when it was put to Parliament the following year.
However, a community was mobilised as the policy started garnering more public support, amid a global climate that was rapidly developing progressive attitudes to the issue.