Harmony Day: Sport brings people together

21 Mar 2012   |   Blog   |   Supporter action

Tags:  Social justice, community, Peace   |   No comments

Earthquake damaged cathedral

By Melinda McHugh, Caritas Australia

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” – the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

21 March is the UN-declared International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s just run with Harmony Day.

While writing this blog, I thought about something that happened very recently. It was a sunny afternoon, so I took my six-year-old son to the park. There he saw another boy his age and they started to play together.

For the next hour, they went down the slide, on the swings, played hide-and-seek and climbed the equipment. They just looked like two friends hanging out together, laughing and giggling the whole time. 

What I didn’t realise is that the other little boy, who was from Indonesia, couldn’t speak a word of English. I only found out when it was time to go home and we were saying goodbye.

His father looked at me and said: “He can’t speak English yet … he knows ‘hello’ and ‘bye’ and likes to ‘High 5’ but that’s about it.”

So after receiving a ‘high 5’ and a very happy ‘bye’ – we went on our way. 

Sport brought them together, so it’s poignant that sport – play, engage, inspire – is this year’s Harmony Day theme.

Managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), and being celebrated at my son’s school this year, Harmony Day is a day when all Australians celebrate our cultural diversity; it gives people the opportunity to celebrate what makes each Australian unique and share what we have in common.

“The continuing message for Harmony Day in 2012 is that Everyone Belongs, which means all Australians are a welcome part of our country, regardless of their background. It's a time to reflect on where Australia has come from, recognising the traditional owners of this land. It's also about community participation, inclusiveness and respect – celebrating the different cultures that make Australia a great place to live.” – Harmony Day (official website).

Harmony Day is the start of the UN’s ‘Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination’.

Sport in the Solomon Islands

“Sport is a wonderful way to bring young people together.” Bishop Chris Cardone op, Bishop of Auki 

Watch how Caritas Australia uses sport to bring young people together in the Solomon Islands and address underlying issues in the Auki community.

The wrist band and soccer ball activities were developed around our community formation programs. The four themes of the program – leadership, peacebuilding, gender equity and environment – are underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching.


Melinda McHugh is the writer/editor (and blog writer – most of the time) for Caritas Australia

Find out more about the Solomon Islands

Back to blog