THIS Harmony Day, Red Cross is challenging all Australians to do something practical to help make their community even more welcoming.
“Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. Almost one in two Australians were either born overseas or have parents born overseas, one in five of us speaks a language other than English at home, and we practise over 120 religious faiths,” Judy Slatyer, Australian Red Cross CEO, said.
Harmony Day, 21 March, celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It is a day for all Australians to embrace cultural diversity and to share what we have in common.
Eighty-six per cent of people think multiculturalism has been good for us, according to research from the Scanlon Foundation. And some 73 per cent say the mix of people from different national or ethnic backgrounds improves life in their local area.
How can we build on to this to make our communities even more welcoming, more supportive and more inclusive?
This Harmony Day (21 March 2016) we’ve come up with five ways you can help:
1. Read up on the facts: help dispel some of the myths about refugees and people seeking asylum. There’s lots of info here, here and here. Plus there are school resources we developed with SBS.
2. Invite a guest speaker: ask a refugee or migrant to share their story with your school or community group. In many states, organisations like Red Cross offer resources or speakers to help you organise this.
3. Be a workplace mentor: offer mentoring or volunteering opportunities to a refugee or person seeking asylum who is struggling to find a job.
4. Help someone get an education: ask a school or university to support a refugee or person seeking asylum who wants to study but has limited financial resources. Support could include fees, uniforms, or books.
5.Volunteer: offer your skills to an organisation that helps refugees, people seeking asylum and other vulnerable migrants.
Our communities are stronger when we understand the stories, motivations and hopes of those we live along side; when we recognise what connects us, not what separates us, says Judy Slatyer. “Each of us has a responsibility to help create a more harmonious and accepting society. And as a proud multicultural country, we must make sure that every person feels welcome, and they can participate in our economic, political and cultural life.
“This is what Harmony Day is all about. We think it should be Harmony Day, every day,” Judy added.
Red Cross has a mandate to help the most vulnerable people, regardless of their background, age, location or where they come from. Every day, we support people in need of assistance, including refugees, people seeking asylum, the homeless, the elderly and those affected by disaster and conflict around the globe.