Harmony Day and Harmony Week
Harmony Week is all about celebrating the amazing cultures that make up our country. Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world – from the oldest continuous culture of our First Australians to the 49% of Australians who were born overseas or have a parent who was.
Our cultural diversity is a great strength and brings with it a whole host of traditions, religions, languages and of course, food! It helps us to do things in different ways, reduces discrimination and lets us accept difference. Despite this, being anything other than Anglo can sometimes be challenging in Australia. It can feel like there’s nobody else like you and people’s lack of understanding sometimes leads to conflict.
You might know this event as 'Harmony Day' – it's been renamed 'Harmony Week' to recognise the diversity and inclusion activities that take place during the week e.g. at schools and workplaces. Harmony Week includes March 21, which is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We’ve put together some tips for how to make the most of Harmony Week.
Share a meal
Get your mates together and host a Harmony meal - if there’s one thing that brings people together, it’s food! You could ask everybody to bring a dish that means something to them - it could be an old family recipe, a lunchbox favourite or a dish they like to whip up when they want to impress. Get everybody to make a card for their dish explaining what it is and why they brought it, helping everybody connect to each other's cultures.
Our mouths are watering just thinking about these recipes that young people on the ReachOut Forums shared:
- Jewish chicken soup with kneidel
- Bangladeshi street food
- Sinhalese curry
It's important to make your event as COVID-safe as possible. Serve your food in individual portions, and make sure that you aren’t using common platters or sharing utensils.
Check out local community events
There’s plenty happening around Harmony Week so have a look if there’s an event in your local area. The folks who organise Harmony Week have made a handy calendar. Some events might even be after volunteers or people to share their story – if you’re up for it reach out to the organisers!
Share your story
It can be super powerful to hear other people’s stories. Realising that somebody else has felt the same way or made the same mistake helps you feel less alone.
Whether you’re thinking you might share at a Harmony Week event or you want to speak to your colleagues/friends/random strangers on the street - have a think about why you’re sharing and what you want to get across. Check out this short vid to hear from Roxy on how she found the strength to share her story.
Hearing or seeing your native (or second) language can be really comforting.
- Many local community radio stations have culture-based shows and SBS Radio has shows in 68 different languages PLUS some awesome music shows like PopAraby, PopDesi and PopAsia.
- You can hit up SBS again for a some awesome foreign-language films, check out Palace or Dendy Cinemas if you want to get out of the house to watch something, or even go old-school at your local library which should have a DVD collection you can borrow freely from. Oh, and of course there’s always Netflix!
- When it comes to reading – the world is your oyster. All bookshops and libraries (whether online or IRL) have foreign-language sections you can browse. If it’s been a while since you’ve read something in the language you could even ask a family member to help you – bonding time and culture FTW!
Ask others about their culture
Hearing from others about their culture can be super interesting – just check out what some young people in our forums shared. It can also help you process your own thoughts and feelings. Carve some time out to hang with a friend or family member and ask what culture means to them.
“South Asia is already pretty well known for its amazing cuisine, and Sri Lanka is no exception. Sri Lanka was historically a trading port as well as longstanding centre for Buddhist studies - people from many different kingdoms in East Asia, the Middle East, and even Africa and Europe would come to trade resources and knowledge, and that had a pretty strong effect on the cuisine.”
“What makes me proud is the connection I have with other Indigenous people, even if I barely know them. It’s like I feel so comfortable and welcome in their presence.”
Feeling nervous about having a chat – check out our 3 steps to better communication.
Reconnect with the people you miss
It can be hard living apart from loved ones, especially if, for you, that means they’re in another country. Use Harmony Week as a chance to prioritise a Skype sesh – the wonders of technology now means your friends and family are only a click away.
Reconnect with the places you miss
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, put some time aside to spend on country. If this is something that you do regularly you’ll probably already have a good idea of what works for you. If spending time on country is a little harder or unfamiliar, you could ask an Auntie, Uncle, Elder or friend to welcome you onto their land and learn about their traditions and practices. This sort of reconnection with land can be healing and beneficial for your wellbeing.
For others, think about visiting a favourite restaurant, park or a friend’s house that reminds you of your culture. If you’re in a major city, you could even head to a cultural enclave – just google your city and the culture and you’ll be able to find the locations. For instance, in Sydney you’ll find a large Vietnamese population in Cabramatta, in Brisbane Sunnybank is where you go for Chinese culture and in Melbourne, Dandenong is the home of the Indian community.
Feeling a sense of belonging is really important to make you feel good. Taking the time to connect with and share your culture will go a long way in helping you feel like you’re not alone.
What can I do now?
- Read more about Harmony Week and Australia's cultural diversity here.
- Learn how you can support people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Check out some ways you can understand different cultures and build your cultural awareness.