What is Harmony Week?
Harmony Week is a time for Australians to come together and celebrate our rich and diverse multiculturalism. This week of celebrations includes the 21st of March, which is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Harmony Week was first held in 1999 and since then has been celebrated from the 15th — 21st of March.
Why orange? According to the Australian Government, Orange was chosen for Harmony Week as it represents things like social and meaningful conversations, the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.
What does Harmony Day mean to QUT students?
Harmony Week is built on the key ideas of Respect, Equality, Freedom and Belonging. QUT held its annual Harmony Day event on the 18th of March this year, so this year on behalf of Glass I decided to ask you, the diverse and wonderful students of QUT what Harmony Week means to you.
Here’s just a glimpse at some of the moving responses we got:
What does respect mean to you?
“To understand and empathise with others even if you have different points of view. Respect is treating others as equals, providing them with a voice and listening to what they have to say.”
“Something you give and take; every living thing deserves respect. A way you show that you care for others and see them as human or a living being. Showing respect to another is different per culture and individual.”
“Treating and seeing everyone as equals but recognizing everyone has a story on their own and it may not be the same as ours own.”
“It means doing your best to be understanding of people’s differences and acknowledging their strengths. Being open minded and respectful of someone else’s culture and beliefs and opinion.”
What does equality mean to you?
“Equality is when people from all different backgrounds treat each other as equals and band together to celebrate and share their culture and knowledge.”
“Treating people respectfully, regardless of class, skin colour, level of ability, gender or sexuality and no bias is held against another person for things they can’t control.”
“That everyone can be included and respected, and everyone has access to the resources they deserve.”
“The same sets of opportunities/respect for everyone in consideration of their personal needs.”
What does freedom mean to you?
“Freedom means choice, liberty and the ability to make your own destiny.”
“Being able to express yourself and follow your beliefs without the fear of anyone having the authority to threaten you over them.”
“Freedom is the opposite of oppression. It is having choices. It is a government that values its citizens.”
“The possibility to love whoever you want, eat whatever you want, pray to whatever you want, live wherever you want.”
What does belonging mean to you?
“Belonging is being able to find a community you feel accepted and welcome in.”
“It’s all about love. You belong to some community or some ethnicity and you seek respect from them and towards them.”
“Having a community that you feel safe and welcome in to be yourself authentically.”
“Belonging is a feeling of unity. It is feeling accepted and valued. It is joyful moments in a community.”
The conversations, friendships, karaoke, and (socially distanced) embracing of others this Harmony Day was out and proud! Arguably, one of the most significant initiatives of the day was by the team running the QUT: Society of Education And Learning – SEAL’s stall. On Harmony day alone, they raised $464 for the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Program via Communify. People who donated were in return given orange roses, which quickly spread throughout the KG campus.
Despite all this, I was surprised at the sheer number of first and second-year students asking me if this was something that the University usually held. Many of the second years were pleasantly surprised. It seems they appreciated the event as they missed out on a lot of physical events (like O-week) last year. It appeared that a return to some normalcy was very welcome.
They weren’t surprised to hear that due to COVID-19, the event moved to an online format last year. Rest assured, I made sure to inform them that this is a usual event, the smiles of appreciation that grew after was enough to know that an event like this is always needed.