Keys to building Community Harmony

We leave our homes and families for greener pastures’ to countries of our choice. Little we know what’s in store for us. Many settle in various countries including Australia to share our stories and work for prosperity of the land and its people to live in harmony.

Australia is not a place of bigotry and hatred. It’s a country of many backgrounds, many stories, which together make the country strong and vibrant. Our shared story, of so many of us who have built a new home and a new community in a country with an ancient history, is unique.

Our immediate relation is with our neighbours. The Australian community has devised several programs that enable people to live and promote harmony. These programs include living in harmony partnership programs, building neighbourhood community harmony.

Integration is the most important factor in building harmonious relation among the communities. For example, various communities are planning strategies to bring different cultures closer. The state governments are playing a big role in this regards by organising various multicultural programmes.

The main pillars of Australian values are :

  1. Respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual.
  2. Freedom of speech.
  3. Freedom of association.
  4. Freedom of religion and secular government.
  5. Support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
  6. Equality under the law.
  7. Equality of men and women.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection urges all new residents to learn as much as they can about Australian heritage, language, customs and way of life to integrate with local communities.

In public, they should be using English and not their own language for communication. It has been seen some migrants are not fluent in English and blame others for any lapse despite the facility of translation and interpretation services. This is the first step towards integration.

What does community harmony mean to us in the context of Australia?

Community harmony means many things, but some words that immediately come to mind are inclusivity, diversity and respect.

Just as any good party host wants all their guests to feel welcome with friendship and hospitality, so too are these themes of inclusivity important to community harmony.

Diversity is a key theme in community harmony, particularly as the Australian population is a real melting pot and will obviously continue to be so in the future, as it has been predicted that more than 21 million migrants will be added to Australia’s population by 2051. Our communities will become even more diverse and enriched by the values, customs and knowledge of people from all around the world.

Lastly, I believe respect in all senses of the word is critical to a harmonious community.

What can be done to strengthen community harmony?

Good communication is often touted as being the key to any strong relationship or marriage, and in a community sense this wisdom also rings true. Continually asking questions, sharing information, being open to learning, coming together for community activities, helping each other, and celebrating our differences and our similarities are all great ways to strengthen community harmony.

In Australia, we are fortunate that we have many opportunities to do all these things.

Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 36 years’ experience in various capacities in the profession. He has worked in some of the leading national dailies of India including, The Hindustan Times as a Chief Sub-editor and at the Fairfax Community Newspapers in Australia as reporter-cum-sub-editor at Blacktown Sun. He had a brief stint at the University of Western Sydney as a tutor in journalism before becoming Editor of The Indian Sub-continent Times in 2003. Prior to becoming journalist, he post-graduated from School of Languages, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi with specialisation in Chinese Language in 1978