Did you know that almost half of all Australians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was?
Harmony Day is a celebration of that cultural diversity, which sits at the heart of Australia’s national identity. It’s recognised on 21 March each year, but this year has a special significance as the event’s twentieth anniversary (it was originally conceived in 1999 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, set up by the United Nations).
To mark this latest milestone, 2019 Harmony Day has been expanded to a week, from 17 March to 23 March, with a full seven days of events across schools, communities and workplaces, all promoting the central message of “Everyone belongs”. More specifically, it encourages Australians to stand against prejudice by embracing all of our country’s wide range of heritages, from racial to religious, cultural to social; essentially it asks us to set an example of tolerance that future generations can follow, building a better society for Australia and beyond.
Already, in the two decades since its inception, Harmony Day has resulted in almost 80,000 events being organised to acknowledge Australia’s multiculturalism, with orange being adopted as the official colour of the festival. But if you were unaware of Harmony Day and feel, perhaps, that it’s too late to get involved, don’t worry; there’s any number of activities through which you can celebrate cultural diversity yourself without having to be hugely organised.
- Listen to music, watch a film or read a book from a different culture.
- Find time to chat with someone you may know who was raised with different customs to your own.
- Drop in to a restaurant that serves food you may never have experienced before.
- Learn about other cultures by visiting a museum with exhibits dedicated to other ethnicities.
And, of course, there’s no reason to limit your explorations to Harmony Week itself. After all, it’s never too late to broaden your understanding of others.