Page 631 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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to recognise Harmony Week, an important occasion to reflect on and celebrate the values of inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, and especially those from diverse cultural backgrounds and faiths.

This year Harmony Week began on Harmony Day, Monday, 21 March, and runs until Sunday. 21 March also marked the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is globally observed. Harmony Week is a timely opportunity to appreciate our rich cultural diversity and to highlight some of the work being done to ensure that Canberra is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone. It is also a time to reflect that we still have a way to go in eliminating racial discrimination and to recognise the sheer injustice and hurt that exists while ever it persists. Part of that is our work to learn about and to embrace other cultures.

I was proud to share on 21 March that the ACT will join the UNHCR Cities #WithRefugees campaign. By signing this statement of solidarity, we have joined more than 250 cities worldwide who are committed to embracing refugees and supporting their settlement in their new home. By each of these cities highlighting their own local efforts, we are collectively providing a global showing of solidarity. The UNHCR’s regional representative, Adrian Edward, remarked that this was “an especially timely and meaningful message of compassion from Australia to the world” in light of the ongoing conflict and suffering we are witnessing in Ukraine, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

Indeed, the ACT calendar is enriched year-round by events and activities that promote diversity and multiculturalism. That is especially reflected during Harmony Week. There have been and will be many opportunities to celebrate.

The Canberra Multicultural Community Forum hosted its peace pole event with Rotary on Sunday. Regrettably, I was unable to attend but I know it had a strong showing, as usual. Having been previously, I commend them on this initiative, their commitment to it and, most importantly, the message that it sends, which is added to the pole in more and more languages: “May peace prevail on Earth.” A message for all time and especially at this time.

On Monday I was proud to attend the graduation of the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services Multicultural Leadership Development Program, where, as part of those celebrations we enjoyed dances from the duo Parice and a range of extraordinary artwork, including in the beautiful mandala style.

In Civic Square this Saturday the Persian Australian Community Association will be hosting Persian New Year, which has also just occurred, and Harmony Day celebrations featuring live music, delicious foods to try—including, I am told, a variety of desserts—traditional cultural performances, art displays and more. It is an event that is proudly supported by a multicultural grant. It is just one way to celebrate with the whole family and a great opportunity to learn about another culture and community.

Like many Australians, I have chosen to wear something orange, indeed as much orange as I own, during Harmony Week to show my support for cultural diversity and

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