We celebrated our rich and diverse community with an organisation-wide event on Harmony Day (21 March), where we crossed live to Leongatha, VASS, Wangaratta and Stevenson’s Rd to check out some of the traditional food feasts, cultural dress and artworks happening on this very special occasion.
The theme for Harmony Week is “Everyone Belongs”, a sentiment that was truly reflected in the celebrations across all our sites and services.
First, we headed out to Leongatha Community Hub, where the clients were taking part in the Meet & Eat program—where they prepared a meal to share with members of the local community. On Monday, Eva — an Italian client from the Hub, was leading the group in making eggplant parmigiana to share (and her family recipe of spaghetti bolognaise) as well as delicious meals from Mauritius.
The Leongatha Hub has also been celebrating the diversity of their staff and customers throughout the week, with saree demonstrations, traditional Mauritian Sega dancing and many more activities.
We then headed north to Wangaratta Community Hub, where clients and staff were participating in international games, including bocce from Italy — a game similar to lawn bowls. Clients also had the chance to test their multicultural knowledge, taking part in a round of trivia.
Next stop on our Harmony Day tour was to our Ventilator Assisted Accommodation Service (VASS) in Thornbury, where a Harmony Day festival was being held! We had a guided tour of all the goings on, with special artwork showcasing the cultural backgrounds of staff and clients and teaching how to say ‘Hello!’ in each, a special poster titled “Who Am I? Important things to know about me” where clients shared some interesting information about themselves. There was also a wonderful artwork of the ‘Harmony Tree’ where clients and staff placed a handprint in colours that represented their cultural heritage.
VASS will be keeping the Harmony Tree and bio board going to encourage clients and staff to share the things that are important to them, and what they want people to know about them. This has been a very unifying experience for all and a fun activity that clients and staff can do together.
Last, but most definitely not least, was a visit out to Stevenson’s Road where the Harmony Day spirit was in full swing. Clients and staff at the service were beautifully dressed up in traditional dress, sharing traditional food and dancing.
Celebrating cultural diversity has always been a big focus for Service Manager Jasmin Ong, who has been introducing clients and their families to different cultures in many ways, including through trying their cuisine.
There were also other celebrations happening around our sites, including at our Neurological Support services (NSS). Clients and staff decorated their sites with flag bunting and made special badges worn to commemorate the day. They also enjoyed a range of activities including dressing up in orange, Harmony Day bingo, trying new food such as Samoan bun, Sri Lankan dishes, Chinese biscuits and fortune cookies. This was also an opportunity for clients and staff to share stories from their cultural backgrounds — using the displayed flags as a conversation starter.
It was an incredible celebration across all our sites, thank you to everyone who got involved.