By Nicole Hicks, Early Years Specialist
Currently, the world is in chaos. Health warnings are circulating every corner of the media, racial tension is heightened and many people aren't being the best versions of themselves. A level of uncertainty reigns.
That's why this year's annual Harmony Week, culminating in World Harmony Day on Saturday 21 March, is arguably the most important one yet.
Harmony Week celebrates cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
Since its inception in 1999, there have been more than 80,000 Harmony Week events that have been held in childcare centres, schools, community groups, churches, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies across Australia alone.
To us Aussies, Harmony Week is a celebration of our multiculturalism and the strong unity between migrants and their cultures with our community and way of life.
Harmony Day is often symbolic with the colour orange. Traditionally, orange signifies social communication and meaningful conversations. It also relates to the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.
A lot of schools, centres, and communities choose to wear orange during Harmony Week to show their support for cultural diversity and an inclusive world.
Taken from the ABS 2016 Census Data, here are some interesting statistics about these traditions which have enriched our nation:
Nearly half of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was.
We identify with more than 300 ancestries.
Since 1945, more than 7.5 million people have migrated to Australia.
85 per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia.
Apart from English, the most common languages spoken in Australia are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog/Filipino, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi.
More than 70 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia.
This country is a vibrant and multicultural one — from the oldest continuous culture of our first Australians to the cultures of our newest arrivals from all over the world. It is a country where people can experience living in a modern nation.
Australia may not have an extensive history like other countries, but it has stars in its eyes for a sparkling future.
Did you know that Australia is the fourth happiest country on the planet? Its lifestyle is one of the most known and envied in terms of carefree living.
It's generally celebrated as striking a healthy balance between work, family and leisure time.
This balance makes it possible to spend a majority of time engaging in outdoor activities rather than on work or deadlines. Whether it’s a barbecue in the sun or a surf in the ocean, Australian culture leaves you with a smile and doesn't discriminate.
Australia is, by nature, deeply multicultural. The continent has, in fact, been populated thanks to immigration over the last two centuries. Foreigners to Australia come from all over the world: one in four people have no Australian origins.
Above all, Harmony Week is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core values.
Multiculturalism has allowed our country to flourish.
It is important that we celebrate Harmony Day and embrace and respect the colour and diverse range of skill sets and contributions of all those who call Australia home.
The Imagineland team work hard to create stories for children that celebrate these strong morals. They too wish every person a very happy “World Harmony Week”, and do so with open hearts, inclusive vibes and generous minds in everything they do.