HARMONY DAY (conditions apply)

March 21st, 2013  |  Published in Asylum seekers

I love the idea of Harmony Day – cultural respect, everyone belonging, celebrating diversity – but hate the exclusions. There is not much harmony, or respect, and certainly no belonging or cause for celebration on Nauru or Manus Island, or for anyone who has sought safety in Australia, but instead got detention and exclusion.

justice for asylum seekersHarmony Day, according to the official website, “is managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”

That grates. DIAC, of course, also (mis-)manages people who apply for protection in Australia, but the glaring dual consciousness of our government and its bureaucracy is ignored, as if it doesn’t exist.

This leaves me also with dual consciousness – wanting to show respect, but feeling that doing so is disrespectful of those excluded. I would like those excluded to know they are not forgotten, and that finding ways of holding on to hope is critical. There are many people in Australia doing their utmost to create change. Their success would achieve safety for many; it would also allow authenticity on Harmony Day.

Can we achieve inclusive harmony for next Harmony Day?

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