Harmony Day: Many Stories – One Australia

| March 20, 2013

On Harmony Day, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, explains the genesis of the initiative and shares how this year’s theme celebrates Australia’s diversity.

Australia is a land of diversity. Since 1945, we have welcomed about seven million people from more than 200 countries to our shores. We speak around 400 languages, including Indigenous languages and about 45 per cent of Australians are born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Australians also identify with about 270 ancestries, with four million speaking a language other than English at home.

Combined with our rich Indigenous heritage, the diversity of our people continues to shape our identity as a multifaceted, multigenerational and multicultural nation.

By providing a day of focus for the nation to recognise, celebrate and commit to our cultural diversity, we can forge an environment where mutual respect and inclusiveness becomes part of the nation’s DNA. Thus in 1999, Harmony Day was launched.

Managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Harmony Day is a celebration of Australia’s diversity and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Since its launch, Harmony Day has been celebrated with 50, 000 events across schools, childcare centres, community groups, churches, businesses, and federal, state and local government agencies.

This year’s theme is Many Stories – One Australia, which highlights each Australian has a unique story to tell, which make up the chapters of the bigger Australian story we share today. By going beyond the cover of the book, we can begin to learn and understand each other. It is, in essence, developing a dialogue for our cultural consciousness to evolve.

One Australian who epitomises the spirit of this year’s theme is bestselling author Thomas Keneally. As the Harmony Hero for 2013 and author of titles such as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Schindler’s List, and The People’s Train, Thomas inspires others through his many novels which document the struggles and triumphs of characters in multicultural Australia.

I encourage all Australians to share their story with each other – in your workplace, on your social networks, at your school or within your community. You may also choose to share your story with all Australians by taking a photo, filming a video, or writing an article. Visit www.harmony.gov.au to find out how.

I look forward to hearing your stories.