Dancers and performers from across the globe lit up the stage as part of Lake Macquarie’s Harmony Day celebrations.
The annual event, which took place at Charlestown Square last Thursday, highlights the city’s rich diversity, with more than 10% of residents born overseas and almost 5% hailing from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Acts included One Voice Mob, Salafai Dance Academy, Gambirra MOB and Connor Wink, while local community service providers, such as Centre for Hope, MAX Solutions, Northern Settlement Services, Hunter Multicultural Communities, Ability Links and St Vincent de Paul, hosted information stalls.
Lake Macquarie businessman, musician and event ambassador, Matt Purcell, also provided personal insights into his own unique story.
The 30-year-old was born in South Korea but immigrated to Australia as a foster child.
He has experienced firsthand the challenges and joys of being an Australian with an ethnic background.
“I did experience some racism through primary school for my ethnicity,” he said.
“But I think Australia has become more accepting of different cultures and nationalities, particularly over the past decade.”
Mr Purcell urged everyone to embrace Harmony Day and the positive messages of inclusion it promoted.
“Human beings flourish when we celebrate cultural differences – not oppose them,” Mr Purcell said.
“Life is generally hard, and suffering is built into the framework of existence, so we need to find things that bring our strengths out in one another.”
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Harmony Day, set down for 21 March, with week-long celebrations ending on Saturday.