Harmony Day is a day for celebrating the many different cultures and backgrounds that make Australia so wonderfully colourful and diverse. Despite its touchy-feely name, (which has provided a source of amusement for some of my friends), it’s a great concept.
This year’s theme – “Everyone belongs” – is about every Australian being welcome and included in our community, regardless of where they come from. It’s about celebrating the things that make us unique as well as things we have in common.
But, let’s be honest, we need Harmony Day because we don’t always enjoy harmony in our communities. We need a theme like “everyone belongs” because so many Australians don’t feel like they belong. We need to tackle racism and divisiveness because it is alive and well in modern Australia.
Racism continues to be experienced by the traditional owners of this land, as well as migrants, international students, asylum seekers and refugees, who have often endured the most to forge a new life in our lucky country.
It’s disappointing that, while enthusiastically promoting Harmony Day, some of our political leaders continue to employ divisive language and pursue policies that discriminate against particular groups of people and directly jeopardise harmony within our communities.
The only group of people who truly had the right to decide who came to this country and the circumstances in which they came were the traditional owners of this land. Yet, they were given no choice. Indeed, many of them continue to feel marginalised by a society that has been established around them.
The other more than 97 per cent of us fall into the category of “those who’ve come across the seas”.