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Harmony Week

Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-123511

Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)

Harmony Week

Mr MARK COURE (OatleyMinister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors) (16:49:40):

— This week, as everyone will know, is Harmony Week, a week where we take the time to celebrate diversity, and reflect on how multiculturalism can play a great role in making societies such as ours great places to live, work and visit. The beginning of Harmony Week also marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. That day is also a time to acknowledge that while we have come a long way to becoming the harmonious multicultural society we are, there is still more work to do. I truly believe that New South Wales is the world's greatest multicultural success story. We are home to people from more than 300 cultures and ancestries, who speak 275 different languages and dialects and practise 144 different religions. Of course, that includes the traditional owners of this country, who are the world's oldest living culture.

Even though we have so many people from so many different backgrounds here in New South Wales, we all live harmoniously together. No matter who we are, where we are from or what we believe, we all call New South Wales home and try to make our State the best place it can be. That is what I believe makes New South Wales the greatest multicultural success story. We are setting an example to the rest of the world of how such a diverse population can live together as one. For me, in celebrating the spirit of Harmony Week, I started a conversation around languages. On Monday, which was Harmony Day, I called for everyone across New South Wales to find a second language that resonates with them and to take the time to learn it. While I would like to see more focus placed on learning a second language in schools, I want to see it go well beyond this. I want people to be empowered to learn a language through university, TAFE, or at one of the 250 community language schools we have in New South Wales.

More than that though, I would love to see people take an interest in the language that their family, friends, work colleagues and even neighbours speak. There is something incredibly powerful in being able to speak another language, and I know that it will lead to enormous benefits not just for individuals, but for society. So to everyone in New South Wales celebrating Harmony Week, instead of just acknowledging just how great our diversity is, I call on each and every one of them to be a part of it. Turn to your neighbour, friend or work colleague and ask them how to say hello, goodbye, yes, no, please or thank you in their language. They might just find that not only will they build a greater relationship with them but also it might motivate them to go and learn more.

Having, I believe, the best job in government, I am incredibly privileged to be invited to many events across New South Wales, where I get to experience just how much colour and vibrancy our multicultural communities add to New South Wales. Earlier this week I was able to help launch the George's River Council's Better Together anti-racism campaign. This campaign is a great example of how we can work with the community to build knowledge of how to respond effectively to racism and support those who are targets. The New South Wales Government, including my agency, Multicultural NSW, works hard to combat racism in all its forms through important programs including the Community Partnership Action [COMPACT] program, the New South Wales Community Resilience and Response Plan and the Remove Hate from the Debate project.

As we recognise and celebrate Harmony Week, I offer my warmest wishes to everyone in our great State. It truly gives us a moment to pause and reflect on our achievements and how our diversity adds to our Australian identity. It gives us the chance to celebrate our commitment to our diverse multicultural society and to take pride in our belief that everyone belongs. More than anything, this is because we all value the hope and the opportunity that our country has to offer. Long before I became Minister, multiculturalism has always been dear to my heart, not just for the benefits it gives us as a society, but for paving the way for the great relationships we all have. And that is what is so great about living in New South Wales: despite our differences, we all get along, and we all live harmoniously together.