Harmony in the park

In December, over 2,000 people gathered at Sydney’s Belmore Park to promote a simple message of understanding and harmony. The event was organised by five young people who had come together after news of the Cronulla riots. All had the common goal of uniting people in an event removed from politics and devoid of finger pointing rhetoric.

One of the organisers, Michael Mcglynn said it was fantastic to see people of all ages, ethnic background and political viewpoints leave their individual agendas at the park gates. “The crowd was diverse, but not divided,” he said.

Keynote speakers at the event included prominent businessman, Peter Holmes a Court; entertainer, Jimmy Little; prominent film director, Rohan Woods; Matt Noffs from the Ted Noffs Foundation; and Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friends Association.

All spoke of the need to foster respect and understanding.

“We are an ingenious country that has pioneered great discoveries of science, business and politics but we are now called to be the pioneers of the heart,” said Matt Noffs. “To pioneer understanding among each other.”

The day concluded with the reciting of the Belmore Park Declaration, which reaffirmed the core principles under which the day was organised. The Declaration, along with a large mosaic containing the signatures and contributions of hundreds of people who attended, was presented to New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma.

“Although events like this may only reveal a superficial understanding of another’s history, journey, culture, ethnic or religious identity, they promote a culture of peace and community harmony in a very big way,” said co-organiser and former United Nations Worker, Kolitha Wickramage.