21 March 2017

Harmony Day sparks Multicultural Advisory Council callout

| Charlotte
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Harmony Day Instagram post.

As children in schools around Canberra recognise our cultural diversity as part of Harmony Day celebrations today, ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Rachel Stephen-Smith has issued a reminder that the ACT Government is seeking applications from culturally and linguistically diverse people for its new Multicultural Advisory Council.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the Multicultural Advisory Council would consist of up to 15 members and would inform and assist the ACT Government in its work with the multicultural community. Applications from potential members were welcome between now and March 28 (details here).

The phenomenally successful annual National Multicultural Festival (attended by 280,000 people this year) is among the ACT Government’s initiatives celebrating Canberra’s cultural diversity.

Australians celebrate Harmony Day each year to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Today Canberra proudly celebrates its standing as one of the most successful culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia, and I encourage Canberrans of all backgrounds to get involved,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“[Harmony Day] is one of the many ways our community says no to racial discrimination.

“This year’s Harmony Day theme, “Everybody Belongs”, reflects our community’s vibrant and inclusive spirit.”

Ms Stephen-Smith this morning shared this video post from Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, marking Harmony Day via Twitter:


The Minister said today that the ACT Government’s ACT Multicultural Framework 2015-2020 was developed through community consultation and focused broadly on supporting multicultural communities and promoting a harmonious community through culturally diverse programs and activities.

She noted the ACT became a Refugee Welcome Zone in 2015, the first jurisdiction of all the states and territories to do so.

“We have made it possible for refugees on temporary or bridging visas to access training in areas of skills shortages,” she said.

“This follows the inclusion of the ACT in the Save Haven Enterprise Visa Scheme which also opened up training and work opportunities to asylum seekers.”

Canberrans are encouraged to wear orange today as it is the official colour of Harmony Day, and one that traditionally symbolises social communication and meaningful conversation, freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.

Senator for the ACT and Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Zed Seselja said today that there would be more than 3500 events held to mark Harmony Day nationally.

“Food fairs, singing, dancing, movie nights and concerts will display cultures and traditions from every corner of the globe,” he said.

“Harmony Day is a wonderful, vibrant and colourful reminder that we are one of the most diverse and yet socially cohesive nations on earth.

“This is a day that helps us appreciate the enormous benefits of cultural diversity while understanding that first and foremost we are all Australians and we all belong. The glue that binds us together and confirms our sense of belonging is mutual respect.”

Senator Seselja said event organisers could register their activities by visiting www.harmony.gov.au, allowing all Australians to check the calendar on the website to find events near them.

He also encouraged Australians to like, follow and share posts celebrating Harmony Day using the #harmonyday and #everyonebelongs hashtags. You can find Harmony Day on Facebook at Harmony Day_AU, on Twitter at @HarmonyDay_AU, and on Instagram at @harmonyday_au.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying to join the ACT Government’s Multicultural Advisory Council, more information is available on the Community Services Directorate website. Applications close on March 28, 2017.

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