Uni Life

Everyone Belongs in Harmony Week 2021

Almost half of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was. Saskia Whitney explores this year’s Harmony Week theme; Everyone belongs.

Harmony Week (15th – 21th March) signifies social cohesion, the importance of unification, inclusivity, and respect for all members of Australian society. It is undeterred by cultural, ethnic, or religious roots; everyone belongs. Harmony Week creates space for reflection on how we, as Australians, can educate and engage with efforts to dismantle intolerant, racist, and xenophobic attitudes in the hope of constructing a society rich in multiculturalism.

The UON community is rich in diversity; culturally, religiously, ethnically, and socially. That’s why each year, our campuses are filled with events to encourage students to celebrate, unify and learn collectively about 100+ countries and cultural identities that make our student body a whole.

The UON celebrations occurred on Wednesday 17th March, and the dreary weather didn’t stop the set-up of colourful tents and celebrations in the Auchmuty Courtyard. Live performances, cultural sharing, free food, and music filled the courtyard with the colour that was missing from the day. Not stopping for the wet weather, the UON Latin American Dance Society (LADAS) came together in the Brennan Room, performing the traditional Cuban dance sequence, Rueda de Casino.

Harmony Day Celebrations: Auchmuty Courtyard – Wednesday 17th March, 2021 (Image: Saskia Whitney)

This week’s goal is to dismantle the age-old idea that migrants needed to dismantle their varying cultures, in an attempt to assimilate into our nation. Twenty-two years after conception, Harmony Week continues to play an important role in educating younger generations, with celebrations ripe in schools across the nation. We are encouraged to wear orange, representative of “social communication, and meaningful conversation, as well as the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect”.


“Harmony Week celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity.

It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.”

– Department of Home Affairs

Many have taken this show of support to social media, using the national hashtags, #harmonyweek, and #everyonebelongs to demonstrate additional support. 

Harmony Week was a conceived idea, headed by politics, meaning it has naturally been met with heavy criticism. Accusations of tokenistic support and performative activism remain key critiques of the movement.

Inspiration for the day came from the internationally observed United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, celebrated annually on March 21st.

With a thematic focus each year, 2021 recognised ‘Youth standing up against racism’. This day is chosen as if falls on the anniversary of the Sharpeville racial attacks in South Africa. Sixty-nine people lost their lives for undergoing a peaceful demonstration, bidding against the passing of apartheid laws., it’s on this day that we stand in solidarity.

Were you unable to make it to a Harmony Week celebration?

Get involved at home; gather your housemates together for a cooking competition…think, Persian Meatballs and Sweet Italian Ciambellone or,  Jamaican Power Bowls and Syrian Baklava. Pick your tasty challenge on the ‘A Taste of Harmony’ website – find a bucket-load of recipes to test your skills and help you to discover a new cuisine! 

After this week in news, our nation is already rallying to encourage justice, fairness, and equality. It would feel irresponsible not to pose a reminder, to practice harmony with every, any and, all individuals. 

Feature Image by: the Government of WA, no changes made

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