Turning on the news right now is not a fun activity. When the world seems a bit too much, we know the first point of call for us is spending time with our mates – and we bet you do too!
The people in our lives make us feel better, no matter what’s going on, whether that’s at school, at work, in our homes, or our broader communities. One of the best things about Australia is the diversity and range of people we get to learn from and be friends with.
That’s why things like Harmony Week are so important, so we can celebrate this diversity and remind ourselves that – no matter the news – there is still lots of good around us.
What is Harmony Week?
Harmony Week is a week-long celebration of Australian multiculturalism and the diversity of our wonderful communities – from the oldest continuous culture of our first Australians to the cultures of our newest arrivals from around the world. This year it’s taking place from Monday 21st of March to Sunday the 27th of March.
It coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which takes place on the 21st March.
Why Do We Celebrate Harmony Week?
Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world, and it’s important we acknowledge and celebrate this all year round, but Harmony Week is a chance for individual cultures to share their traditions in vibrant ways.
It’s also an opportunity to reset, express gratitude and acknowledge how we all benefit from multicultural communities.
Harmony Week has three core values that all events seek to promote:
These values are essential for everyone to adhere to, regardless of their cultural or linguistic background.
What Types of Events Are Happening?
When it comes to the types of events planned – almost anything goes! As long as it celebrates multiculturalism in a positive, respectful and inclusive way.
The official Harmony Week website has a superb list of everything that’s happening across Australia, including:
- Panel Talks and Conversations: Hear from different cultural leaders and spokespersons from across Australia as they discuss what multicultural Australia looks like today.
- Harmony Walk: Harmony Walk is an initiative of the Moving Forward Together Association, a not-for-profit committed to creating a better understanding among communities. Harmony Walk brings Australians from diverse national, ethnic, and religious backgrounds together to acknowledge and celebrate the values of fairness, harmony and respect. Find a Walk near you here.
- Pot-Luck Food Swaps, Dinners & Cooking Lessons: Across Australia, you’ll find people connecting and celebrating over one of the biggest things we all love: food! From pot luck dinners to cooking lessons and introductions to the meaning behind different dishes and their cultural significance.
- Cultural Exhibitions: Communities everywhere will be setting up and showcasing cultural artifacts, art, and performances to highlight the different ways culture and art are a vital part of our lives.
- Song Writing Competition: The Harmony Day Song Writing Competition is open to school students in all schools in Australia. Entries are based on the student’s school year for 2022. With cash prizes to be won, entries are open until the 16th of April – find out more here and get your songwriting cap on!
- Live Music & Dance: Who doesn’t love a good chance to shake it on the dancefloor? And what better way to celebrate together than through music and dance! You’ll find lots of opportunities to learn, connect, and boogie throughout the week, from traditional music to traditional dances.
- Poster Competition: The Harmony Day Poster Competition is open to school students in all schools in Australia. You can enter an A3 drawing, a painting or mixed media artwork focused on the theme ‘Celebrating Harmony’ until the 16th of April. Entries are based on the student’s school year for 2022. Find out more here!
Do you know what’s happening in your school or community for Harmony Week? There’s still time to find simple ways to celebrate together!
Whether it’s a pot-luck lunch, a story-telling assembly, or class discussion about what inclusivity and diversity mean to you – speak to your teachers, peers and student school leaders and see what other ways you can acknowledge this important week.
How You Can Live Harmony Week Values All Year Round
While it’s great to have an opportunity like Harmony Week to focus on and celebrate inclusivity and diversity in our communities, it shouldn’t be something we only think about once a year.
With so much division around the world right now, it’s more important than ever to make sure we’re practising respect, kindness, and compassion all year round.
Remember: a person’s appearance, personality, quirks, beliefs, and interests bring something unique to the world that nobody else can duplicate. Inclusiveness is about celebrating our unique individuality and each other for who we are, humans, no matter where we come from.
Being inclusive also means staying curious to learn about each other positively instead of forming opinions based on bias or fake news.
There’s a lot to be said for treating others how you would like to be treated – and this includes through all your interactions.
Whether in-person or online, whether the people or group you’re talking about are in the room or not, make sure respectfulness underpins all your interactions.
We all want to feel like we belong, and the place we live is a place we can call home. ‘Belonging’ might sound like a strange way to think about this, but really it’s all about accepting others as they are, offering a friendly smile and ‘hello’ if you think someone seems lonely and acting from a place of inclusivity in and outside of school.
Belonging might feel tricky – we’re all geared towards forming groups based on people who ‘seem like us’ – but there are ways you can keep building belonging as a mindset. Read books and watch media made by diverse people and groups, stay curious and open about new people, and find ways to inform yourself about how unconscious bias might be impacting how you engage with others.
Happy Harmony Week!
We hope this Harmony Week you’ll see that it’s more than just a chance to share some good food and culture – and that being inclusive, respectful and promoting a sense of belonging for all is a foundational Australian way of life.