Shepparton is a multicultural melting pot and those who live here are proud to mix with nationalities from all over the world.
Italians, Greeks and Albanians have long called Shepparton home.
We have four mosques and have openly welcomed Turkish, Punjabi and Pacific Islander communities since the 1960s, and those from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and the Congo since the mid 1990s.
We are a melting pot of cultures and, unlike Bendigo, don’t see far-right protesters marching in the streets causing trouble.
Multiculturalism in Shepparton works.
Why? Because of the work our service organisations — Greater Shepparton City Council, Shepparton police, Kildonan UnitingCare, the Ethnic Council of Shepparton, Goulburn Valley Health and the Shepparton Interfaith Network, just to name a few — do in helping settle these different communities.
We lead the way in the multiculturalism space and are showing other communities, towns and cities in Australia how it’s done.
It’s done by connecting migrants with local services when they first arrive.
It’s done by breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and helping migrants learn right from wrong — here in Australia.
It’s done by hearing, listening and understanding different voices.
Wilmot Rd Primary School and Sirius College celebrated Harmony Day yesterday by hosting a number of different cultural activities.
Beginning in 1999, the day is about inclusiveness and embracing culture — encouraging the idea that everybody belongs.
Harmony Day is about celebrating the benefits of our multicultural society which has come about as a result of the successful integration of migrants in the community — locally and nationally.
A number of events have been held throughout this week celebrating cultural diversity in Greater Shepparton.
The events continue tomorrow at the Shepparton Library, St Augustine’s Hall and GOTAFE and conclude on Sunday with the Blue Ribbon Foundation Community Cricket at Victory Park, Shepparton.
But the message of respect and belonging goes beyond March 21.
It can be lived by each of us, every day.