My members statement today is to acknowledge Harmony Day, which took place on 21 March. Harmony Day is a celebration of the multiculturalism and diversity which makes our nation what it is.
It is held in conjunction with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The central message of Harmony Day is ‘everyone belongs’. It is an important message; it is one that is too often forgotten in what are often fractious debates about our own national identity. I am proud to live in a country and a state that seeks to welcome everyone and to find a place for everyone, whatever their story or wherever they may come from. This is a country that does not just tolerate diversity but celebrates and embraces it.
In my own electorate we have events such as Pako Festa, an annual celebration of multiculturalism which has run since 1983. It is a celebration of the many ethnic communities in Geelong — their food, their dress, their dance and their culture. But more than just that it is also about coming together and acknowledging how we contribute to this great state. People who come from around the world and end up calling Victoria home are crucial to the fabric of our society, and indeed many come from different countries and are represented in this chamber and in the other place. Our past two governors were born in respectively Lithuania and what was then Ceylon.
About 45 per cent of Australians either were born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas. No longer is our nation a British outpost at the bottom of Asia. Rather we are a richly diverse, pluralistic society. We are both one and many.