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Celebrating Harmony Day: Respecting cultural diversity at work

March 21 is Harmony Day. A celebration of Australian multiculturalism, the day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On this day, schools, workplaces and communities come together to celebrate our multicultural country. We’ve been doing so since 1999 and have held more than 70,000 Harmony Day events throughout Australia promoting inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all.

Multiculturalism in Australia

Australia is a vibrant and multicultural country. It’s one of our greatest strengths and one that makes Australia such a desirable place to live.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • One in four people living in Australia were born overseas.
  • One in two have an overseas-born parent.
  • We identify with over 300 ancestries.
  • Almost 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home.
As well as a celebration of this rich cultural diversity, Harmony Day is an important chance for us to reflect on our personal practices and workplace policies when it comes to inclusivity.

Make a difference in your workplace

Discrimination based on race or ethnicity is still rife throughout Australian workplaces. Each work environment is unique and how to tackle racism effectively will depend on the unique features of each workspace.

However, there are some simple steps you can take to promote respect and acceptance in your place of work:

  1. Lead by example and promote respect between individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
  2. If you witness acts of racism in the workplace, don’t minimise or normalise the behaviour with comments such as “they don’t really mean it…” Address the situation in a professional and respectful manner.
  3. Speak out and educate others about Harmony Day and the importance of celebrating our cultural diversity.
  4. Offer support to colleagues who may be experiencing mistreatment on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

What to do if you’re experiencing racial discrimination at work

In Australia, your employer has a legal duty to prevent racial discrimination in the workplace. It’s unlawful for you to be treated less favourably because of your race, colour, national or ethnic origin. If you think you’ve been subject to racial discrimination or racial hatred in the workplace, you do have rights.

Shine Lawyers are experts in workplace discrimination matters. Our employment lawyers can advise you based on your personal circumstances and provide practical solutions to your work-related matter. Get in touch with us today.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 19, 2018.

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