Harmony Day

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:47): I, too, rise to make a contribution to this motion. I think it is a very important motion that members of this place should reflect on, particularly the celebration of multiculturalism and the recognition of Australia's diversity.

This all began back in 1999 under the stewardship of Prime Minister Howard, but since then we have seen, I think, many more communities and society coming closer together with the introduction of Harmony Day. I think that, since its introduction, we have seen about 80,000 Harmony Week events across not only schools and childcare centres but also church groups, community groups and government agencies.

What we have seen is a coming together of the different cultures, nationalities and beliefs. There is always middle ground, and we know that some are a little more forceful or have a little more of an extreme view on modern-day beliefs. However, what Harmony Day or Harmony Week means is that we are able to come together and talk about our beliefs, we can talk about what it means as a young person, as a businessperson and as a community-minded person, but at the end of the day it brings people together for some of the great events.

In Chaffey, one of the greatest electorates in the state, we continue to see film screening events, meal gatherings, poetry competitions and performances. In South Australia, we have the OzAsia Festival and recently the Governor's multicultural awards, which sadly were constrained somewhat by the pandemic, but they continue to go on.

The Riverland is regarded as one of the largest multicultural communities, home to over 60 nationalities and that has been generated by opportunity, with different nationalities seizing the opportunity to work the land, to farm and to produce food. It puts them into a comfort zone where they are able to work, create their own wealth and create their own empire, and that is why the Riverland is one of the great success stories with different nationalities coming together in harmony.

The ABS statistics suggest that 49 per cent of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was, that 7½ million people have migrated to Australia since 1945 and that we identify with over 300 ancestries. I think that 85 per cent of Australians have agreed that multiculturalism has been good for the country and no more importantly than here in South Australia.

I would like to acknowledge the Assistant Minister to the Premier, the Hon. Jing Lee, for the great work that she has done to bring politics closer to multiculturalism. I know that the Minister for Innovation and Skills has also dedicated a large part of his political career to the great multicultural events and opportunities they create. Both of them need to be commended.

Sure, all politicians work very hard, but especially those two politicians, and of course the Premier, who speaks a number of languages fluently and has done that so that he can interact with the different nationalities in his electorate. In that regard, there has been a great coming together of modern-day politics and multiculturalism.

There are 70 Indigenous languages, with so many dialects, spoken around the country. As our heritage continues to grow, we acknowledge that one of the oldest cultures on the planet is here in this great country. Australia has a great expanse of diversity, from the oldest continuous culture of our First Nations, as I have said, to the cultures of our newest arrivals from around the world.

Harmony Week is the celebration of multiculturalism and the recognition of our achievements as one of the world's most successful multicultural countries. Harmony Week includes Harmony Day on 21 March, which coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

I would like to commend the Riverland Youth Theatre, which continues to host great events, particularly the Riverland's Harmony Day. That is always hosted on the banks of Lake Bonney in Barmera, with cultural performances, workshops, stalls, activities, food and dance. Having attended many of those, it is always a great opportunity to catch up with many of the group leaders, the group participants, to share food and to share the stories that we so enjoy.

This is why it is important that Harmony Week is recognised. Harmony Day is a very important opportunity for multiculturalism to grow, to be stronger and for the communities that we represent to really shine, with the benefit of multiculturalism being almost in our DNA now. That is why I have made a contribution to this very important motion.

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