By Narayan Khanal, MYAN NSW Multicultural Youth Ambassador
Many of us probably have never thought much about Harmony Day. Harmony Day is celebrated to embrace multiculturalism in Australia, to acknowledge the successful integration of migrants into our communities. Harmony Day is about belonging, inclusiveness and mutual respect for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. But why is that important? Here are six reasons highlighting the importance of Harmony Day and why it should be celebrated by all Australians:
Nearly 50% of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was
The data from our latest National Census reveals that we are a fast moving, ever-expanding and diverse nation with rich cultures. With nearly 50% of the Australian population who were born overseas or have at least one parent who was, it is important that we respect the vast diversity of cultures and embrace our shared values and traditions. It is important to acknowledge that diversity makes us unique and strong. It is well known that multiculturalism has always strengthened our Australian national identity.
Over four million Australians speak a language other than English
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over four million Australians speak a language that is different to English. That is about 16% of the total Australian population. Despite our population of only 24 million, Australia comes within top 10 countries with most diverse languages in the world! Due to Australia’s multiracial and multicultural nature, this is reflected in the diversity of food, lifestyle and cultural experience and practices. This is the beauty of Australia, which allows us to learn about different cultures and different people. This has also led to cross-cultural curriculum in schools, broadening all young Australians’ understanding of the world. Multiculturalism truly dilutes and dissipates the divisiveness of ignorance.
Business development and economic growth
There is often the argument that immigrants are adding to unemployment rates in Australia, which is largely misunderstood by many of us. Skilled immigrants in Australia are a key strength of many Australian companies, a source of diverse cultural research and innovation in the new global economy. Immigrants who call Australia a home bring diverse education and work experience and an understanding of a global business context, which not only helps shape Australia’s economy, but also creates more job opportunities and allows greater growth in businesses and Australian markets.
Recent political discourse with refugees and asylum seekers
With so much news in the media surrounding the harsh treatment of refugees in offshore detention centres, subsequently causing significant amount of heat within Australia, it is important that we all come together. As Australians, we need to support settlement of these refugees and asylum seekers and let them enjoy their human rights to survive and prosper. No one wants to leave their country by choice. It is important that we have civil debates and understanding about such matters where many lives are at stake. Our ability to accept diverse cultures and diverse people is what makes Australia so great.
The impact of multiculturalism on global citizenship
Today we live in a highly globalised world, which means there should be no place for isolation and discrimination and it is important to be aware of the world around us. Being global citizen means to develop knowledge, skills and values we need to engage with the world. Multiculturalism facilitates this, allowing for a better understanding and more opportunities to learn about the world around us. To truly appreciate and embrace diversity, it is important to recognise both the similarities and differences that exist between various people. Multiculturalism makes a society more open to change, as its social make-up allows individuals to choose different lifestyles.
The importance of different beliefs and value systems
As humans, we all have our own beliefs, our own values and attitudes to the way we approach life. This is something we learn to acquire through diverse and unique experiences throughout the course of our lives. Our family, friends and community all have an influence on our beliefs and value systems. Multiculturalism is also something that has huge influence on our beliefs and values. It not only allows us a better sense of who we are, but also affects how we view our world. Multiculturalism gives us a chance to grow and experience diversity.
“Multiculturalism gives us a chance to grow and experience diversity!”
Australia is a great example of multicultural success, with Australian society accepting migration as a nation-building project. Over 85% of Australians agree that Multiculturalism has been positive for Australia. As a result of this, it is now time for us all take a moment to celebrate our differences, our similarities, our diversity and live harmoniously because that is what being an Australian means. Happy Harmony Day!