My name is Rosalie Wicks, and I am a third-year Bachelor of social work student at Charles Sturt University, currently completing my 500 hours of field placement with the African Australian Advocacy Centre (AAAC). African Australian Advocacy Centre (AAAC) is the new peak body representing the African Australian Communities in the areas of advocacy, research, and policy outcomes in collaboration with different stakeholders including but not limited to non-profit organisations, state and federal government, business, industry, the civil sector, academia, and the philanthropic sector.
I had the privilege of attending the NSW Premier’s Harmony annual Dinner held at the Sydney International Civic Centre, on March 1st, 2022. The dinner was held in celebration of the contribution of the many rich and diverse cultures that make up our state. This occasion marked the lead up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and celebration of Harmony Day on the 21st of March. During the dinner, several people were recognised through the Premier’s Multicultural Community Medals and Honour Roll which pay tribute to the many outstanding people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to promote social cohesion and harmony across our state.
The night began with a Welcome to Gadigal Country from Uncle Allan Murray with a Smoking Ceremony by the Walangari Dance Group. There were many beautiful cultural performances with singing and dancing throughout the night from the NSW Federation of Language Schools Choir Performance, Thandi Phoenix, and the Matavai Pacific Cultural Arts.
At the Premier’s Harmony Dinner, I had the privilege of sharing the night with a diverse group of people from across the globe including interfaith, community, and organisation representatives such as the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Hindu Council of Australia, and African community leaders including Rosemary Kariuki who won the 2021 Australian Local Hero award.
After this and many other events had to be postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic, it was great that so many people came to celebrate this important occasion. The night provided a perfect way for people from different political parties and affluences to be unified. The event was a great opportunity for networking amongst the diverse communities of NSW. As an anglo-Australian, I am very grateful that I was invited to witness this great event. As a student, I am pleased to write this article to acknowledge the wonderful experience I had sharing the food, listening to the speakers, watching the performances, and meeting people from all the different cultures which make Australia a unique and beautiful country.
The NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet made a speech to welcome everyone to the event and recognise the vast contributions that diverse communities make in NSW. He then had to leave prematurely for a commitment with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to light up the Sydney Opera House in support of Ukraine at this time of political unrest.
The Chair of the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board, Doctor Harinath and the CEO of Multicultural NSW, Joseph La Posta also spoke beautifully about the strength and resilience of the multicultural communities of NSW. Particularly through the challenges that that the last few years have brought. Multicultural NSW has supported the community with over $35 million in grants and language support across whole of government. Congratulations to the many winners of the multicultural awards.
Reflecting on the night from the perspective of a social work student, the NSW Premier’s Harmony Dinner provided the perfect means of connecting with the community and appreciating local cultures. The event resonates with the Australian Association of Social Workers’ with the AASW president, Christine Craik, stating in 2019, “…‘Harmony’ within our communities and across society rests on recognising the dignity of every person, while welcoming diversity.” The event recognised accomplishments that often go unacknowledged by documenting local achievements of multicultural community members. This is especially important with people who were born overseas making up 27.6% of the population of NSW.
Having shared a meal and good conversation with such good company, this is an event I am happy to have attended and will take home to my family and peers with positive regards. Overall, the night was a huge success with many attendees remarking how much they loved attending the dinner, recognising the people who received their awards, and appreciating the multicultural performances and dress. Multicultural NSW has set a great example of how to host a great evening, particularly after spending the last 2 years in lockdown.