Father Chris Riley on Harmony Day

Every year our services take part in Harmony Day on 21 March, working to bring communities together. It’s a day where we celebrate Australia’s diverse and inclusive multicultural community. As this year marks the 15th anniversary of Harmony Day, it is also an opportunity for looking into our future, a future shared by all communities regardless of race or ethnicity.

It doesn’t surprise me that nearly half (45%) of all Australians were born overseas or have a parent of multicultural origin. As a diverse and varied community, it is important that we work towards supporting young people in education. This is vital so that the future groups in Australia may be better off. Education rates are increasing overall, however there still remains a significant gap. Disadvantaged and isolated young people, who make up 40% of all unemployment in Australia, as well as 42% of the overall homelessness population, most heavily experience this gap.

A key focus of Harmony Day is education, and how it is vital in breaking down  disadvantage and empowering future generations. If we want to work towards improving social harmony, and opportunities for our young people the first step is through giving them the tools they need to succeed – a proper education.

Youth Off The Streets runs an annual National Scholarship Program, aimed at assisting young people achieve their greatest potential and to break the cycle of poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation.  At Youth Off The Streets we believe that all young people should be given the chance to achieve their best. Applications for the program close on 3 April, however the work required in building a better future for our young people, does not.

On Harmony Day, we celebrate the diversity and strengths of Australia’s many cultures, coming together to share our histories. We are a multicultural, inclusive society and we owe it to the young people to come together for a common good. Let’s help our young people improve educational achievement and social cohesion in 2015.

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