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24 March 2022
Embracing diversity, equality, and our common humanity
Harmony Week 2022 runs from 21-27 March, focusing on the theme ‘Everyone Belongs’.
Harmony Week is about inclusiveness, respect, and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background. It is a time to celebrate Australian multiculturalism and the integration of migrants into our community.
The first day of Harmony Week, 21 March, is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This date is also recognised as Harmony Day.
The day aims to encourage people to participate in their community, respect cultural and religious diversity, and foster a sense of belonging for everyone. God loves all people and longs for every person to be valued, respected, and included.
Many Salvos churches, centres, and programs across Australia use Harmony Week to connect with their community in creative ways. Below are some suggestions on how you can get involved in Harmony Week.
1. Share a meal Invite your family or friends to a meal at your home, local community group or church. Ask everyone to bring a dish that means something to them and explain what it is and why they brought it. Invite one or two participants to share their stories.
2.Celebrate diversity. Dedicate a get-together for Harmony Day Hold a get-together in your local community and encourage people to dress in their cultural attire and share their stories.
3. Check out local community events. A calendar of events can be found at harmony.gov.au. Consider volunteering your time or getting involved. Listen to stories Invite someone from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background to share their story at an event or in personal conversation.
4. Build relationships. Connect to culturally diverse communities by reaching out and building relationships – as an individual, family, community group, or church.
5. Reconnect with places you miss If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, put some time aside to spend on Country. You could also ask an Aunty, Uncle, Elder, or friend to welcome you onto their land and learn about their traditions and practices.
For people of other cultures, think about visiting a favourite restaurant, park, or friend’s house that reminds you of your culture.
6. Learn Read or engage on digital platforms to learn more about different cultures in Australia and the rich array of people who call Australia home.
1. 86 per cent of Australians agree that multiculturalism has been good for Australia.
2. Apart from English, the most spoken languages in Australia are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, and Vietnamese.
3. Nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was.
4. More than six million Australians were born overseas. Nearly one in five have arrived since the start of 2012.
5. 2.8 per cent of Australians identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
6. In Australia, there are more than 250 Indigenous languages including 800 dialects. Each language is specific to a particular place and people.
Responding at an individual level
Honestly reflect on your own feelings, thoughts, and biases against people of different cultures and ethnicities.
Take personal action against racism motivated by a respect for God’s image in every person.
Seek to influence the attitudes of others by expressly rejecting racial stereotypes, slurs, and jokes.
Encourage family and friends to appreciate the diversity of cultures and ethnicities.
Join in combined efforts to bring about justice for the victims of racism.
Responding at a societal level
Pursue goals of racial and economic justice. This could include efforts to achieve fair working conditions, adequate income, safe and secure housing, educational opportunities, and health care that is available to all.
Be aware of the responsibility to promote racial justice and ethnic diversity in private and public sectors of life.
Avoid and resist rhetoric that can contribute to ethnic stereotyping.
Encourage all people – especially leaders – to recognise the negative effects of racism in society and commit to rid the world of this injustice.
Paraphrased from The Salvation Army International Positional Statement on Racism