Harmony Week, formerly known as Harmony Day, is a week to celebrate the importance and strength of Australia’s multiculturalism. Here are some ways to get involved and celebrate our country’s diversity.
Australia is proudly one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with nearly half (49%) of Australians born overseas or having at least one parent who was.
This cultural diversity brings with it many different traditions, religions and languages that deserve to be honoured and maintained. Australia’s multiculturalism includes both the oldest continuous culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the cultures of newer arrivals from around the world.
Harmony Week is celebrated during the week that includes 21 March, which is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You may come across diversity and inclusion activities that take place across the week in schools, workplaces and in your community.
Most of all, Harmony Week is an opportunity to live the theme of ‘Everyone Belongs’. Here are some ways to get involved and celebrate our country’s rich diversity.
Attend a Harmony Week event
Harmony Week events are taking place across the country, so why not attend one? If there are events at your workplace or your child’s school, they provide an opportunity to connect with your colleagues or other parents in a fresh and exciting way. If you’re feeling keen, ask if you can help organise the event or if you can bring a plate of food from your culture.
The people who organise Harmony Week have made a calendar so you can check out what’s happening near you. Some events feature people sharing stories about their cultural background, which is a particularly great way to learn about the customs of other countries.
Share your story and listen to others’
Sharing your story can be a powerful way to connect with others. You may choose to share a story about your culture at a Harmony Week event, or just with friends or colleagues.
Before you share, think about what you’d like to get across — would you like to talk about the strengths of your culture, or perhaps your traditions?
Similarly, listening to other people’s stories is a great way to build empathy and remember that we’re in this together. You could prepare some questions to ask, such as:
- What is your culture well known for?
- Do you or your family follow any cultural traditions?
- What’s your favourite food or recipe from your culture?
You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from others, and sharing your own story can be very empowering. There are also many benefits to spending time with people from different backgrounds and points of view than ourselves. These benefits include the ability to think critically, increase acceptance of others, and even make better decisions (due to being able to see multiple perspectives).
Cook a new (or much-loved) recipe
Your workplace may host a Harmony Week lunch in which everyone brings a plate of food from their culture, or you may choose to host your own event with family and friends.
A Taste of Harmony has lots of delicious recipes from around the world, including Persian Meatballs, Matzo Ball Soup and Nan’s Lemon Cheesecake (we’re getting hungry just looking at these!).
If you already have some family recipes up your sleeve, talk your lunch mates through why the dish is meaningful to you, and a memory you have of eating that meal in the past.
Listen to a variety of music
Music has the power to connect people across cultures and traditions. You may like to share a song from your culture or explore new types of music.
You could make a playlist of your favourite songs to share or try browsing new cultural genres of music on a streaming service. Go on — you’re even allowed to have a dance if you feel like it!
Learn about a different culture
There’s nothing more rewarding than learning about something new. Take the time to learn about a culture that interests you — it could even be your own.
You could also go to the library and search for a book based on your interests. If the library isn’t your thing, try listening to a podcast about Australia’s diversity, such as The Colour Cycle or My Bilingual Family.
With travel limited over the last few years, we’re so lucky we can experience so much culture in our own backyards. Learning about your own and other cultures is really valuable and will make you feel more connected to the people around you.
Maintaining strong connections with those from different backgrounds to ourselves helps spark creativity, maintain social cohesion and create peaceful and welcoming communities, in which everyone feels like they belong. And that’s a shared goal we can all get behind.
At Relationships Australia NSW, we recognise how important it is to build strong bonds amongst, and between, diverse cultural communities. Our Community Builders service in Northern Sydney offers a range of free, tailored school programs, and multicultural support services for families. Get in touch with them today.