Celebration of living in harmony

DIVERSITY, acceptance and international understanding were on everyone's minds yesterday at the Harmony Day festival at Knox Park in Murwillumbah. Representatives from Australian, Torres Strait Island, Philippine, Indian, African and Japanese communities took part in festival, immersing themselves in entertainment and food from different cultures. Events co-ordinator, Kathy Nolan, heralded the day a success. "We do it to show that the Murwillumbah community can celebrate and harmonise with other cultures," Ms Nolan said. "Everyone loves working with it. We have people from different nationalities selling food and items that makes them unique." Ms Nolan said it is important to accept people, no matter what nationality they are. "Everyone is exactly the same, it does not matter where we are from," she said. Those attending were treated to a day full of entertainment including Celtic and Aboriginal dancing and African drumming. "I hope everyone had a good time, met some new people and made some friends. That's what it's about," Ms Nolan said. Fely Hamer, of the Filipino Support Group (Tweed), said it was important to have a presence at the event. "We're a non-profit organisation helping Filipinos integrate into mainstream society," Ms Hamer said. "We're enjoying it, we've done it for several years. "We make food and hand out information brochures." The federal government is currently holding a review on the community relations program, "Living in Harmony", which includes Harmony Day. Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson, said in February that it's time to take a fresh look at strategies for bringing Australians from all backgrounds together in a positive way. "The government wants to make sure that the program reaches the broadest possible audience, delivers value for money and that those most in need of our help are receiving assistance," Mr Ferguson said. The government is supporting the celebration of Harmony Day across Australia this year, despite the review. "Harmony Day is good to get everyone together, even it doesn't run next year we will run it ourselves, just with a different name," Ms Nolan said.

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