Harmony Day - a celebration of cultural diversity

Parliament house flag post

Harmony Day - a celebration of cultural diversity

Posted 16/03/2012 by Harriet Spinks

On Wednesday 21 March, people across Australia will come together to celebrate Harmony Day. Harmony Day is dedicated to celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity, and is timed to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Harmony Day has been celebrated in Australia since 1999. Since then, more than 25 000 Harmony Day events have been held by a wide range of community, sporting and cultural organisation. Harmony Day events are supported by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which provides free promotional material. Events include sporting activities, food festivals, dance or music performances, or simply bringing people together to talk and share stories. The theme for 2012 is “Sport – play engage, inspire” in recognition of the positive role sport plays in uniting people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Harmony Day celebrates the fact that Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world—approximately one in four of Australia’s population was born overseas and around 44 per cent were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Australians identify with more than 270 ancestries, speak over 260 languages and practice a wide range of religions.

The largest source countries for Australia’s overseas-born are the United Kingdom and New Zealand, followed by China, India and Italy. However, the most recent figures show that this is changing. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen recently announced that Australia received more permanent migrants from China than from any other country last year. This is the first time ever that the United Kingdom has not been the number one source country for permanent migrants to Australia.

Multiculturalism has, to some degree, been on the policy agenda of successive Australian Governments, as well as state and territory Governments, since the 1970s. The Commonwealth Government’s most recent multiculturalism policy, The People of Australia, was launched in February 2011. It is the first multicultural policy statement from a federal Government since 2003. It reaffirms the Government’s commitment to a culturally diverse Australia, and outlines the key initiatives in the Government’s strategy for fostering a harmonious and diverse Australia. For an overview of the development of multicultural policy in Australia see the Parliamentary Library publication Multiculturalism: a review of Australian policy statements and recent debates in Australia and overseas.

One of the key features of Australia’s multicultural policy is the the provision of post-arrival services for migrants and refugees. This has been the case since the 1970s when the Fraser Government introduced a suite of settlement policies and programs as part of its response to Review of post-arrival programs and services for migrants (the Galbally Review). Australia’s settlement services for migrants and humanitarian entrants are generally considered to be among the best in the world. Services such as intensive post-arrival support for humanitarian entrants, English-language tuition, grants for program targeting social cohesion at the grass-roots level, and translating and interpreting services, assist migrants in settling in to life in Australia as quickly and effectively as possible. The Parliamentary Library publication Australia’s settlement services for migrants and refugees provides an overview of these services, and how they contribute to a socially cohesive and harmonious Australia.

As a result of a series of successful immigration and multicultural policies Australia is now one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and there is wide-ranging community acceptance of the cultural and religious diversity that this brings. Harmony Day presents an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate this great achievement.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




immigration refugees elections taxation asylum Parliament criminal law Indigenous Australians election results Australian Bureau of Statistics social security disability citizenship income management political parties United Kingdom UK Parliament Census statistics banking early childhood education Middle East Australian foreign policy OECD Australian Electoral Commission voting mental health Employment welfare by-election election timetable China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Productivity Defence asylum seekers High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title Senate ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories leadership aid Papua New Guinea emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding Electoral reform politics refugees immigration asylum Canada procurement Australian Public Service firearms Indigenous health constitution High Court e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament women 2015 International Women's Day public policy ABS Population Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade skilled migration Private health insurance Medicare Financial sector EU national security fuel China soft power education violence against women domestic violence Fiji India Disability Support Pension disability employment welfare reform Tasmania Antarctica China Diplomacy Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency Sport ASADA Federal Court WADA ADRV by-elections state and territories terrorism terrorist groups Bills corruption anti-corruption integrity fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform science innovation research and development transport standards Afghanistan Australian Defence Force NATO United States social media Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism higher education Higher Education Loan Program HECS welfare policy pensions social services ASIO Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Australian Secret Intelligence Service intelligence community Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 sexual abuse online grooming sexual assault of minors labour force workers

Show all
Show less
Back to top