Today we celebrate Harmony Day’s 20th anniversary. Harmony Day was established to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity and to be a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home.
Harmony Day is all about togetherness and kindness, about sharing experience and knowledge. In a small but meaningful way this day of celebration – of respect for diversity – works to create the conditions that erase fear and create friendships.
Of course, this year’s celebration comes at a difficult and challenging time, following the terrible attacks in New Zealand. We are shocked and sobered by what we have seen, but we increase our resolve to make our society one which celebrates multiculturalism and recognises that together we are so much richer for what each of us brings and contributes to our community.
For 20 years schools and workplaces around the country have put on wonderful celebrations – feasts of international food, music and dance events, talks and workshops. Parents across the country have scrambled to find orange T-shirts, often frustratingly difficult to source but gleefully worn by throngs of excited children. Communities have come together and really celebrated difference and diversity – as well as the things that we have in common.
Our very best chance for a happy and harmonious future comes with what our students learn together every day in our rich and diverse school communities. As is often the case, the rest of society could learn much from how schools go about their work every day, as beacons of tolerance and respect.
This Harmony Day I hope you enjoy the fantastic events that our schools and workplaces put on. I hope that every student, every member of every school community, and all who work across the Department enjoys the feeling of belonging and the strength of community that comes from cultural respect and friendship. My hope is also that this feeling and celebration of our diversity is something we all continue to embrace and reflect upon on a daily basis as we live our value of equity under the Strategic Plan.
In our schools and our corporate offices – wherever you are – have a wonderful day. As this year’s Harmony Week theme reminds us, ‘everyone belongs’.