By Ashok Kumar
Sydney, March 15, 2017
We leave our homes and families for greener pastures’ to countries of our choice. Little we know what’s in store for us. Some people coming from different backgrounds have made Australia their home; they share their stories and work for prosperity of the land and its people to live in harmony. Mutual respect is the main principle for achieving communal harmony
Integration with communities is focal point. The Australian community has devised several programmes that enable people to live and promote harmony. These programmes include, living in Harmony partnership programme, building neighbourhood community harmony. For example, various communities are planning strategies to bring different cultures closer. The state governments are playing a big role in this regard by organising various multicultural programmes.
Former Prime Minister John Howard in one of the interviews had said that all communities must integrate to make it a cohesive society. Mr Howard was notoriously leery of the word “multicultural”, saying he had a problem with the term and preferred to use the word “integration”. Migrants are obliged to be Australians and imbibe Australian values, said Mr. Howard during the course of an interview with a newspaper. Mr. Howard said communities must avoid alienation. “I believe in bringing people of different races, different religions, to this country but once you’re here you’ve got to become part of the mainstream community, said Mr. Howard.
The main pillars of Australian Values are: Respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual.
- Freedom of speech.
- Freedom of association.
- Freedom of religion and secular government.
- Support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
- Equality under the law.
- Equality of men and women.
Australia accords no special preference for giving jobs, all a migrant has to do is to compete in Australian job market.
The Department Of Immigration And Border Protection calls upon 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.
Let us learn some views by some of our prominent community members.
CEO Multiconnexions Ms. Sheba Nandkeolyar reflects on the questions this writer asked:
What does community harmony mean to you in the context of Australia?
To me, 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.
Dr Yadu Singh, a Sydney Cardiologist and a prominent community leader, feels “Community harmony is about mutual respect for one another, accepting diversity in all shapes and forms, integration within Australian values and identity, while maintaining the connection and having pride for our heritage. When there is a clash between the values of the place we come from and those of Australia, Australian values and ethos should be given automatic precedence. If we do not accept democracy as the system for governance and do not believe in plurality of views, we will not create community harmony. Adaptation to our new place and its rules, laws, values and ethos is an absolute necessity. We must become part of Team Australia and become Australians.”
Mr. Raj Dixit, an academician, who has keen interest in history and politics of India and Australia, is of a strong view that Apartheid ended in 1994 and after that there was only one race and that’s ‘human race’. No other race is superior or inferior to it. Any talk about racial discrimination is a myth and self-generated.
Dr. Jayantee Mukherjee- Saha, PhD in management , Director and Principal Consultant, Aei4eiA Pty Ltd. answers the questions thus:
Question 1- What does community harmony means to you?
A- I think, community harmony is about the thought centred around the well-being and upliftment of the community. It is about going beyond mere self-interest and lending a hand…genuinely for the greater good. At times, the word ‘harmony’ is quite relative though and nepotism should not be confused as harmony which in fact ‘harms’ ‘many’….
Question 2- What can we do to strengthen community harmony?
- Plainly speaking, genuine thought and going beyond self for the greater good is the key….
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. Mutual respect and inclusivity are the pillars for achieving community harmony.
About the Author:
Mr. 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 in 1978