CELEBRATING our differences and the region’s diversity will be a part of Harmony Day festivities across the Hastings this Friday.
Residents are invited to attend a number of events which aim to bring people together to acknowledge the cultural richness of the Hastings, the traditional owners of the land and celebrate the contributions of community groups and volunteers who make the region a better place to live.
The theme for this year’s event is Everyone Belongs and this will be central to a night of celebration at Wauchope Arts Hall.
A shared dinner with entertainment provided by Rory McLeod will start at 6pm. Those attending are invited to bring a plate of food and learn more about the Mid-North Coast Refugee Support Group.
The group, which aims to raise awareness and break down the myths about the plight of asylum seekers, was founded by Burmese refugee Tin Hta Nu and local advocate Krissa Wilkinson.
Tin fled Burma during an uprising against the government in the 80s and settled in Australia where she now volunteers much of her time giving back to the local community and sharing her cultural knowledge.
“Australia is now another parent to me. When I am asked to do all of these things for my community I do it because I owe my life to Australia,” Tin said.
Ms Wilkinson said it is important Australians open their minds and hearts to those around the world who are oppressed by violence and fear.
“There are some people who simply have an irrational fear about asylum seekers coming here and taking their jobs and threatening our way of life, like they are terrorists in disguise.
“Many asylum seekers have fled because they are being persecuted in their own country. The number of refugees in the world who have escaped their country due to war or famine is in the millions, and we provide asylum for just a small fraction of them.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will welcome 16 new faces to the Hastings on Friday as a part of Harmony Day celebrations. A formal citizenship ceremony will start at 3pm at the council chambers in Burrawan Street.
Mayor Peter Besseling, who will conduct the ceremony, said Harmony Day is a day of cultural respect for everyone who now calls Australia home.
New citizens will be welcomed from countries including the United Kingdom, India, South Korea, Zimbabwe, Scotland and South Africa.
Did you know?
o Around 45 per cent of Australians were born either overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas.
o People from over 200 countries make up the Australian community.
o More than 300 languages are spoken in Australian homes.
o Apart from English the most common languages spoken in Australia are Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Tagalog/Filipino, Spanish and Hindi.
o More than 60 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia.