Throughout our history, Ballarat has enjoyed the many benefits of a diverse and rich intercultural community. A century and half ago, when Ballarat’s goldfields were abundant, our city became one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse places in the world.
Unfortunately, when the gold disappeared, so too did many of our migrant communities. Over the past decade however, our city has experienced a wonderful renaissance and today our region is home to hundreds of cultural and linguistically diverse communities.
According to the 2016 census, 10 per cent of our city’s population is now born overseas. In a growing proportion of households, you will hear languages such as Mandarin, Punjabi, Malayalam and Hindi spoken. All of these communities contribute to the rich fabric of our city through their culture, art, language, religion, traditions, hobbies, food, music and dance.
Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate all these wonderful cultures through our annual Harmony Fest event.
Kicking off today until Friday 27 March, Harmony Fest will feature a broad range of events including the Colours of World Cultures, a group exhibition at the Backspace Gallery, Walk with Us and Holi Festival of Colours, and the spectacular Intercultural City Gala Dinner, which will include a three-course dinner and live entertainment from performers Amaru Tribe, Mitch Tambo, Nesian Pearl and Hanz on drumming.
There will also be art workshops, a dance party, a food festival, a twilight market, tai chi and a vast range of children activities. All these events and more can be found in the brochure at www.ballarat.vic.gov.au. Hard copies are available at the Town Hall and the Phoenix Customer Service centre.
Its significantly important that we come together to reflect on and show appreciation for our community’s diversity; diversity is what makes our city a stronger, more vibrant and dynamic place to live.
The City of Ballarat is committed to building a culturally sensitive and socially cohesive community through a range of initiatives such as Harmony Fest, the Intercultural Ambassador Program, the development of the Intercultural City Strategic Plan 2018–21 and by declaring Ballarat as a Refugee Welcome Zone.
For the next two weeks, I encourage everyone to get involved in all the incredible, dynamic events taking place across our great city.
A big thank you to the outstanding efforts and enthusiasm of people and businesses who have all worked together to deliver such a fantastic event.