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Harmony Week, culture and discrimination

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

Harmony Week, culture and discrimination


Harmony Week, culture and discrimination

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Harmony Week 

This week is Harmony Week, a time for celebrating diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity in Australia. 

Almost half of Australians were born overseas or have a parent who was, and the cultures of Indigenous Australians are one of the oldest surviving in the world – among whom there is a great diversity of cultures, languages and practices.

During this week, sharing your own customs and learning about others’ traditions can be a great way to celebrate and to connect with your teenager.

Celebrating Diversity with your teenager

Connect through food 

Whether with ourselves or with others, food is a great way to maintain and build new connections. It can also be a highly rewarding way to connect with your teenager. Here are some things you could try:

   - Share your childhood comfort foods with your teenagers – what were some foods you liked to eat when you needed cheering up? What do you remember from eating these meals?

   - Prepare a meal with the whole family.

   - Revisit and share old family recipes – you can collect recipes and compile a recipe folder or box.

   - Learn about and connect with other cultures with your teenager – try out a recipe from another culture! Not sure where to start? Check out the recipes at ‘A Taste of Harmony’!

Tell stories 

Stories can be a meaningful way to connect with your teenager. Everyone has different experiences growing up and hearing about them can be a validating experience for your teenager. It can help them feel less alone and can open up a conversation about cultural and racial experiences they have had too.

A fun way to share your story could be through exploring old family photos or tracing back your family tree. You could also watch, read, or listen to media in your native language. These stories can help your teenager learn more about their cultural heritage. Moreover, it can improve cultural and intergenerational connections, and help your teenager better navigate an important part of their identity.

Reconnect with people and places you miss

Reconnecting with people and places of cultural significance to you can strengthen and reinforce you and your teenager’s connections to culture. Here are some ways you can do this:

   - Visit your favourite local park/ restaurant/ places of worship.

   - Schedule a family gathering.

   - Call relatives who live overseas.

Check out local community events 

There are plenty of cultural events happening for Harmony Week. Check them out here on the Harmony Week Events Calendar!

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Importantly, March 21st also marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. So, along with celebrating multiculturalism, it is just as important to have conversations with your teenager to help build their resilience and skills in managing racial discrimination. 

Signs your teenager might be facing racial discrimination

There can be many overt signs that your teenager may be experiencing racial discrimination. These can include:

   - losing friends or being socially excluded

   - being bullied or made fun of such as via stereotypes

   - difficulties with getting a job

   - getting called derogatory terms and/or receiving threats from others

   - being denied entry to places or events

It is also important to note that sudden changes in behaviour can be a more covert sign that your teenager may be facing racial discrimination. These can include: 

   - refusing to go to school or join extra-curricular activities

   - appearing angry or irritated, especially when their identity is brought up in conversation

   - not wanting to express themselves or embrace their identity as strongly as before

   - using harmful language about themselves or others

   - appearing tired or emotionally exhausted after school, TAFE, university or work.

Tips on talking to your teenager about racial discrimination

   - Talk in a comfortable and safe space – this could be indoors or outdoors. It can be empowering to let your teenager decide where they want to have a conversation.

   - Validate your teenager’s feelings – it is natural to feel upset or angry when recounting an experience. Validating your teenagers feelings can help them feel heard.

   - Be open and honest – let your teenager know if you’re afraid or angry on their behalf. This can also encourage your teenager to open up. Just be mindful to not make this about yourself.

   - Share your own experiences – sharing your own experiences with discrimination can help your teenager feel less alone.

   - Remind your teenager that responding is a choice – the decision to respond to racial discrimination can be a big one and people often need some time to process what has happened before responding. Helping your teenager to not feel pressured to respond can help them feel relief from such a challenging situation.


Alongside talking to your teen, it is important to remember to manage your own feelings about the situation. Some ways you can do this are:

   - acknowledging how you feel calmly during the conversation

   - doing something fun with your teen after the conversation

   - celebrating the diversity in you and your teen’s identity – e.g. talking about your culture or heritage

   - normalising these conversations – talking to your teen regularly about discrimination can help them to build their skills in identifying the signs and seeking support.

Other resources

Further support