The Hon. J.S. LEE (14:58): My question is directed to the Minister for Human Services about Harmony Day. Can the minister please inform the chamber about the background and significance of Harmony Day?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:58): I thank the honourable member for her question and her personal commitment to multiculturalism in South Australia. Harmony Day is celebrated annually on 21 March throughout Australia. It began in 1999, coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Each year, it is marked by people coming together and participating in local activities.
The message for Harmony Day is 'Everyone belongs'. It is about community participation, inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, respect and belonging. Communities themselves decide how they would like to come together to mark the occasion. Some have morning teas, others organise a fair and some celebrate by dressing in national costumes. Since 1999, a wide variety of groups, including sports organisations, community groups, local government, churches, schools and businesses, have staged more than 77,000 Harmony Day events.
I understand that honourable members hosted a Harmony Day morning tea this morning, attended by the honourable member, the member for Reynell, the Premier and many members of parliament from this chamber and the other place. Also in attendance was the chair of SAMEAC, Mr Norman Schueler, with other SAMEAC members; the Multicultural Communities Council of SA CEO; Dr Niki Vincent; and other invited guests.
This week, of course, both houses moved a condolence motion about the Christchurch mosque attacks. This morning leaders from the Islamic Society and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community joined the Harmony Day morning tea to appreciate that we all stand with them in solidarity and to reaffirm our commitment to a harmonious multicultural society and condemn any racism, extremism or terrorism.
Might I add, too, that there is a vigil this evening at Elder Park for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks at 7.45pm, which is jointly hosted by the Premier and the Lord Mayor. Harmony Week is an opportunity to consider the many benefits South Australia gains from its culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Benefits include job creation, improved skill levels, the introduction of new skills and networks, and improved economies of scale. The economic advantages are many. Our diverse communities link us strongly with the rest of the world and increase our competitiveness in this global market.
Harmony Week is an opportunity for all South Australians to celebrate our diversity while working to remove barriers that still exist in our community. This year, 2019, is the 20th anniversary of Harmony Day celebrations in Australia and is also the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.