The Australian High Commission celebrated Harmony Week earlier this year – Australia’s annual celebration of diversity and inclusiveness. The week begins with International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which calls on the international community to step up its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. The High Commission team eagerly embraced this year’s theme ‘everyone belongs’.

Like Singapore, Australia is proud of its diverse multicultural population. Like Singapore, we find strength in our diversity. When Australians look out to the world, we see ourselves reflected in it. Half our people were born overseas or have a parent born overseas (see map below). Indeed, around 60,000 people in Australia were born in Singapore.

We attribute our accomplishments as a nation to the contributions of more than 300 different ancestries, from our First Nations People to our newest arrivals.

Source: ABS gov au

Dynamic region

Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Punjabi. Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuous culture – there are over 167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken. According to Australia’s 2021 census, almost a quarter of Australians speak a language other than English at home.

Our identity has changed significantly in past decades. In the 1970s, former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam shifted Australia’s perspective from Asia as a place in which things happened, to a group of countries with which things happened. We are proud to be part of such a dynamic region and to have people with ancestries from across the countries within it reflected in our population and shaping our future.

“Almost a quarter of Australians speak a language other than English at home”

The modern face of Australia is readily apparent both among our citizens and our political leaders. From our Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong to our inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People, Justin Mohamed, we embrace diverse backgrounds.

As in every multicultural society, Australia continues to work to ensure people of all races and national and ethnic origins have the same opportunities and a strong sense of belonging.

Australia’s Multicultural Statement reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to a multicultural Australia. The Statement recognises that cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths; one that equips us to build a future where everyone belongs and has the chance to live a great life. The Statement also sets out our nation’s values of respect, equality and freedom.

Harmony Week is a celebration of all these things, of inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It serves as an important reminder for us to appreciate the strength we find in diversity and the richness that multiculturalism brings to our island home and the world.