Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 761 ..

Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (10.59): Today I rise to talk about Harmony Day and what it means to the people of Canberra. Harmony Day, as my Assembly colleagues would be aware, is about more than just wearing orange or pinning a ribbon on your outfit, though of course we do both these things. The reason we celebrate Harmony Day on 21 March each year is that this is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Harmony Day is Australia’s way of saying yes to this global goal.

The Harmony Day message is “everyone belongs”. Harmony Day activities aim to foster participation and understanding across the community, building a sense of belonging and respect for cultural and religious diversity. Since 1999, more than 70,000 Harmony Day events have been held around Australia, in childcare centres, schools, churches, community groups and by governments at all levels.

On Saturday I had the privilege of helping to kick off just such an event, the Harmony Sports Day at the Australian Institute of Sport in Bruce. This event is organised each year by the passionate and dedicated staff of the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services of the ACT, or MARSS as they are commonly known. I know that other members also attended the sports day and it was great for me to see Ms Cody and Mr Coe while I was there.

The Harmony Sports Day presented an opportunity to celebrate harmony and inclusion for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers through participation in sport with other members of our community. It was a pleasure to see the Canberra community come together to support and befriend our newly arrived young people, helping to build not just teams but friendships across the community. Sport really is a universal language.

As members would all know, MARSS is a wonderful community organisation that has been assisting migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants settle into their new life in the ACT and surrounding regions for the past 30 years. But none of this would be possible without the goodwill, generosity and eagerness of the people of Canberra who demonstrate so clearly every day and in every way their welcoming spirit.

As I said, Madam Speaker, Harmony Day has been celebrated in Australia since 1999 and is really about embracing, understanding, respecting and engaging with all those who surround us: our work colleagues, our families, our friends, our neighbours, our fellow passengers on the bus, people in the supermarket, even the folk who just happen to cross our paths each and every day of our lives. It is also about the community in which we live. It is about the community we aspire to be.

Canberra has a magnificent record for being an inclusive and vibrant city that values diversity in all its forms. The ACT government is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, maintaining social cohesion, building social capital and minimising social exclusion for culturally and linguistically diverse community members.

The 2011 census found that 37 per cent of the ACT population reported either being born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas, while more than one in six were born in a non-English speaking country. Our community is home to more than

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video