Media and Communications Office
Harmony Day is 20 years old in Australia this year, celebrated every year on 21 March as a day of acknowledging Australia’s inclusiveness and cultural diversity.
This year, the day also coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Since 1999, more than 70,000 Harmony Day events have been held across Australia, in places as diverse as childcare centres, schools, community groups, churches, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies.
The figures alone tell the ‘multicultural story’ of our nation. Since 1945, well over seven million people have migrated to Australia. Harmony Day is put forward as a special day for recognising the cultural, religious and social enrichment of our nation, inviting all Australians to participate more and more fully in the vibrant and pluralist country Australia has become.
A significant part of Harmony Day is also the recognition, not only of the newest, but also of the oldest Australians, of the continuous culture of our first Australians.
In fact, in Australia today we identify with over 300 ancestries, exemplified by the fact that more than 70 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia and that, apart from English, the most common languages you’ll hear are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog/Filipino, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi.
Acknowledging Australia's intrinsic Aboriginal heritage, Sherry Balcombe, Coordinator, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, who attended the morning tea, shared this prayer with the gathering, reflecting on what Harmony Day might mean to us.
O God You created all people in your image.
We thank you for the amazing variety of races and cultures in this world.
Enrich our lives by ever widening circles of friendship and show us your presence in those who are most different from us.
Help us to love and care for each other just as you care and love each one of us.
You call us to live in peace and harmony with everyone in our country,
yet we often find it difficult to accept those from different cultures who live in our communities.
We are called to recognize and respect the importance of Aboriginal
Culture; yet, sometimes, we ignore the beliefs, laws and traditions of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters
As we walk together, strong in faith on this Harmony Day, let us turn to God with our hopes and prayers.
Creator Spirit, you are God who brings peace. We ask you to bless all the sick, homeless and imprisoned; the weary, the lonely and the lost. We pray for compassion, kindness, healing and protection for all those who are suffering.
Creator Spirit, you are our God who accepts. Help us to open our arms, hearts and minds to all our brothers and sisters in Australia and appreciate the many cultures, languages and backgrounds of our people.
God our Father, give all of us hearts like your Son’s, open to the experiences, hopes, troubles and goodness of everyone we meet. Help us to be compassionate towards all, sharing the load of each other and all those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Harmony Day is celebrated all over the nation, in morning teas, fairs, concerts, school assemblies, sporting events and national costume days, all showcasing various cultures, traditions and backgrounds. At the Archdiocese of Melbourne, a special Taste of Harmony gathering for staff was held in the St Patrick’s Centre, where attendees were invited to bring some food inspired by their own (many and varied) ethnic traditions.
Samplings of national fare at the Taste of Harmony morning tea
Click here for a comprehensive list of events
all over Australia planned to promote the harmony and social cohesion proposed by Harmony Day.
Today, as part of Melbourne’s contribution to the day, a Friendship Walk departs from the Alumni Courtyard of the RMIT Russell Street campus at 4 o’clock, and will wind its way through Melbourne’s CBD. Not far away, in Hobson’s Bay, a Places of Worship Tour is celebrating Harmony Day with a bus tour to the Australian Islamic Centre Mosque in Newport, the Church of the Dormition of Our Lady in Altona North and Holy Trinity Church, Williamstown.
Harmony Day is a national celebration of inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values.