Harmony Day 2019 provided an opportunity for The JNC to celebrate the diversity of our community. The last census in June 2016 showed 28.5% of people living in Australia were born overseas – here are the top ten overseas countries of origin:
- The UK
- New Zealand
- The Philippines
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
Our diverse JNC community
Many people from the community who access JNC programs or information services or work as volunteers were born in other countries. This week we asked them to share their experiences as migrants. Here are a few of their stories.
Bronia: “I come from Belarus and I have been living here for 27 years. Australia is a peaceful country; an excellent place to bring up children; a country with exceptional nature and many places for holidays. I love that Australia is a multicultural country.”
Miriam: “I come from Sao Paulo in Brazil. I love my country’s music, dancing, the people and the food! I love Australia, the people, the places, the parks. I like having barbecue with friends in the park and I love the beautiful beaches.”
Mark: “I come from Ukraine and I’ve lived here for 22 years. Australia is a very good country, the people are very friendly and it is a good place to be an elderly person.”
Asimina: “I come from the Greek island of Andros. I love the music from my country. I have lived in Australia for 46 years, and I love it here. There are many cultures and it’s nice and clean.”
Henryk: “I’m from Warsaw in Poland. My country is not big, so it has mountains and lakes and the sea, and I like the different seasons there. I have lived in Australia for 39 years. I love the stable weather here, the people are polite and I have independence.”
Linda: “I come from Hong Kong. I love the food and people of my country. I’ve lived in Australia for 30 years. I love the food and the friendly people!”
Our diverse JNC staff
The diversity of the communities where we work is reflected in the diversity of our staff. This year, 48% of our team spoke a language other than English at home, were born overseas, or both. In the photo at the start of this blog, we are enjoying a Harmony Day lunch together sharing food and stories from our countries and cultures. Our countries of origin include Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, England, South Africa, Russia and China.
Disparity – Closing the Gap Day
While we celebrated, we were also aware that Closing the Gap Day, which fell on the same day as Harmony Day 2019, highlights disparity rather than harmony in our community. This annual event creates awareness how far we have come nationally in closing the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia, and how far we have to go.
Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, notes: “Our present is not shared. Our present, and indeed our past is marred in difference, in disparity. This striking disparity in quality of life outcomes is what began the historic journey of the Closing the Gap initiatives a decade ago.
“But after ten years of good intentions the outcomes have been disappointing. The gaps have not been closing and so-called targets have not been met. The quality of life among our communities is simply not equal to that of our non-indigenous Australian counterparts.”
Barbara O’Neill, The JNC’s Aboriginal Community Support Worker, says: “The fact that we have a ‘Day’ allocated to Closing the Gap is an indication of the will for Australians to reflect upon the historical events that have contributed toward Aboriginal Peoples’ challenges in health.
“This has been a difficult process with some wins on the board and it has brought the Aboriginal Health challenges into focus for all Australians.
“Closing the Gap Day this year coincides with Harmony Day 2019, a beautiful synchronicity that encourages deep introspection from all.”