Our diversity is our strength

By Sarah Selig

Our diversity is our strength
Today we celebrate Harmony Day and the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Today provides an opportunity to renew our commitment to building a world of equality and justice through celebrating cultural diversity. There’s an argument that suggests, as global citizens, everyday should include a  commitment to action for equality and the protection of human rights. Today the UN and other national organisations across the world are inviting us to start.

An international response to racism

The UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day aimed at combating racism and promoting equal participation for all in political, social, cultural and economic life. Racism is recognised as a destructive societal force and despite efforts to combat this type of discrimination, it still prevails in public and private institutions. Poverty, underdevelopment, social exclusion and economic disparity are all associated with discriminative acts.

This year the United Nations have dedicated the day to the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme Action.

15 years ago this program was adopted at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in South Africa. The declaration contains a broad range of measures aimed at combating racism in all of its manifestations.

  • Let us reaffirm that cultural diversity is a cherished asset for the advancement and welfare of humanity.
  • Let us strongly reject any doctrine of racial superiority.
  • Let us join together in a spirit of renewed political will and commitment to universal equality, justice and dignity.

Australia’s approach to celebrating cultural diversity

In Australia at least 50% of the population were born overseas or have a parent that was born overseas, making the nation one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world. Craig Landy, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs explains, “Australia is one of the most multicultural societies in the world…and that’s something we should all be really proud of.” Despite this fact there are still barriers to social inclusion and evidence of racial vilification, as we saw for example last year with racist taunts directed at AFL player Adam Goodes and the racial attack of a Muslim couple on a Sydney train, to name just a few incidences.

Conversely we are seeing more people standing up to narrow, damaging views and behaviours. Today in Australia marks Harmony Day, a day dedicated to inclusiveness, respect and forging a sense of belonging in cultural diversity. Australians are encouraged to wear Orange to show their support and pride.


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