Community diversity and culture celebrated Australia wide

Article image - Community diversity and culture celebrated Australia wide

Following recent events in Sydney and spectator behaviour during international cricket matches, Harmony Day 2006 on 21 March is more important than ever. It provides an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate the diversity of cultures in our community and say ‘no’ to racism.

Since 1945, more than six million people have settled in Australia and in 60 years of postwar migration, Australia’s population has jumped from six million to approximately 20 million. Between us, we now speak more than 200 languages, including 45 Indigenous languages. Our most commonly spoken languages are English, Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Mandarin.

Harmony Day is an Australian Government initiative managed by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA).

For the past eight years Local Governments across the country have supported Harmony Day and many strategically use it to show their communities how diversity issues factor into many Council programs.

Harmony Day event registrations rose from 68 events in 1999 to 2,754 in 2005, with approximately 200 Councils and 2,000 schools taking part. Based on the trends of previous years, the 2006 organisers expect tens of thousands of people to take part in about 3,000 Harmony Day registered events across the country.

A snapshot of the following four areas shows how some Local Governments are planning for the day. Kingborough Council in Tasmania is putting on a cultural day. Representatives from the diverse cultures of Kingborough will come together to showcase their culture and participate in an intercultural dialogue about how diverse groups might work together in Kingborough to foster harmony and social inclusion. Jane Grace, Manager Outreach, Yarra Plenty Regional Library Services, works with three local Councils in Melbourne; the City of Whittlesea, Banyule City Council and Nillumbik Shire Council.

“The service’s eight libraries are running activities such as harmony through story time, harmony through movement and harmony through sound,” she said. “There will be performances by local primary school choirs and yoga classes in the hope of creating an inclusive, informed and connected community.”

Northern Territory’s Tennant Creek has a strong and proud Aboriginal heritage and history.

Council will celebrate this culture along with others during an evening community barbeque featuring cultural dances. Dances performed by local talent will include traditional Aboriginal, African and Philippine dances.

Queensland Fraser Coast’s Hervey Bay and Maryborough City Councils will be host to a week of Harmony Day celebrations. The initial launch will include a dance, with music and food; followed by senior citizens around the world food sampling day; around the world kits at local schools, including international games, dances and music; and a market day in Maryborough.

Local Governments across Australia can join in the celebrations to support Harmony Day on 21 March. For further information, including ideas for action, visit www.harmony.gov.au or call 1800 331 100.