Harmony Week runs from Sunday 15 to Saturday 21 March 2020.
Harmony Week originated in Western Australia as an opportunity for Western Australians to recognise, discuss and celebrate our cultural diversity.
It began as ‘Harmony Day’ in 1998 and was celebrated on 21 March—the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The UN chose 21 March as it was the day of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre when police fired on a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in South Africa. Around 250 unarmed black protestors, many of whom were children, were either killed or wounded.
In 2003, due to community concerns about holding public celebrations on the date of the massacre, the WA Government changed Harmony Day to Harmony Week.
The WA Government wanted to celebrate this State’s cultural diversity by organising events over a week. This means that we can celebrate the benefits of our cultural diversity for six days and reserve 21 March for reflection and discussion.
In 2020, for the first time, Harmony Week has become a national celebration, right across Australia.
Everyone can join in—community organisations, workplaces, colleges and universities. See below for ideas on how to get started.
- Learn about the cultural diversity in the organisation you work for. How many different languages do your colleagues speak?
- Organise discussion groups with leaders from culturally diverse communities to improve your service provision to each group.
- Promote Harmony Week in your internal or external publications, such as your intranet, website or newsletter, and ask your staff for ideas on what you can do to celebrate.
- Invite an interpreter or a community leader to talk about their work at a morning tea for staff.
- Gather your colleagues together over a delicious lunch of foods from different cultures—see the Scanlon Foundation Taste of Harmony website www.tasteofharmony.org.au for ideas and to register your workplace.
- Organise an event—a fair, a music or dance performance, or a craft workshop—in partnership with another culturally diverse community group to increase community connections.
- Organise a quiz night on the theme of diversity (there are some great quiz questions in the schools section at the end of this kit!).
- Share your photographs of family members and talk about how they came to be in Australia.
- Trace your ancestry on a world map.
- Find out more about the traditional Indigenous owners of your area—look online or at your local library.
- Talk about the difference between feeling included or not included and what makes you feel that you belong in Australia.
- Get to know your neighbours—ask about their heritage.
- Make your voice or music part of OMI’s Voices in Harmony initiative—an online playlist that is the soundtrack for Harmony Week. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Organise a dinner and bring a dish from a country of your heritage.
- Choose a book from a different culture for your book club.
- Learn something different, like another language, how to do capoeira or how to play the tabla or the zurna!
- Stage a traditional dress fashion parade or hold an international dress-up day, with students dressing-up in costumes that reflect their cultural background.
- Set up a library book display and hold a multicultural reading challenge. Encourage students (as well as parents and teachers!) to check out books set in, or about, other cultures.
- Hold a public speaking or debating competition on topics linked to diversity and harmony.
- Challenge each student, staff member and parent to learn something new about the cultural diversity of other students and teachers.
- Get singing and dancing with a multicultural concert … or a disco.
- Hold a multicultural-themed quiz night and get the parents mingling … but get the students to come up with some of the questions!
- Get the grounds staff involved and create a scavenger hunt that challenges students to find native or introduced plants growing around the school.
- Feature more multicultural food in your school canteen.
- Invite local Aboriginal elders or migrant guest speakers to talk about their culture.
- Stage an art exhibition displaying creative projects that showcase your school’s diversity.