Harmony Day is an important annual event on SSI’s calendar, but the 2016 event marked a milestone as hundreds of staff, volunteers, clients and supporters came together to celebrate this year’s theme – diversity is our strength.
As one of the most multicultural countries in the world, Australia is defined by its diversity, with almost one in four people living in Australia born outside of the country.
Many more are also from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of skills and talents that make valuable contributions to the broader community.
To mark the theme of Harmony Day 2016, SSI hosted an event on March 23 that brought together recently arrived refugees, people seeking asylum, volunteers and community members to celebrate culture, diversity and inclusiveness.
Featuring an afternoon of family-friendly activities, music, dance and sports, the festivities saw hundreds of people celebrate their differences and share what they have in common.
Participants also enjoyed traditional Persian cuisine to celebrate Nowruz, an annual event celebrated by 14 different cultures to mark the start of spring.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said Harmony Day was a time to celebrate and reflect on SSI values of inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
"Harmony Day is a great opportunity to highlight the valuable contribution that diversity brings to the broader Australian community," she said.
"We are proud to support such a diverse range of clients who come from a variety of countries including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iran, Tibet, Autonomous Region of China and Sri Lanka.
"The refugees, humanitarian entrants and people seeking asylum that SSI supports bring with them a wealth of experience, knowledge and talent. Many were teachers, professors, musicians, artists, engineers and business professionals in their home countries. These people make a valuable contribution to their communities and to Australia."
SSI also celebrated the diversity of its workforce on Harmony Day, acknowledging that SSI staff speak more than 80 languages, and SSI bilingual guides speak approximately 35 languages.
Photo courtesy of Arman Azadi.