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A Harmony Day event is being held in the small barn at the Grafton showground on Saturday March 24. LOETUS committee members: Rachel Choy, Caringa CEO, Vishal Sharma, CRANES Strategy and Analysis manager, Rathi Ramanathan CRANES Shared Lives Manager and chair of LOETUS, and Nancy Crook, team leader NSW Rental Bonds, NSW Fair Trading. Image: Contributed

Living in harmony: everyone belongs

Geoff Helisma | Harmony Day (March 21) is about celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity; a day where mutual respect is formally called for, but more importantly a day that symbolises the very nature of our country – ‘everyone belongs’. Forty-nine percent of Australia’s population was either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents were born overseas (second generation Australian). A Harmony Day event is being held in the small barn at the Grafton Showground on Saturday March 24, starting at 9am. It is being hosted by a new group, LOETUS (Language Other than English Together with Us). The group’s purpose, says LOETUS’s chair, Rathi Ramanathan, “is to inform, advise and advocate on issues relevant to Clarence Valley residents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; we are proud to lead the celebrations for Harmony Day in Grafton”. “It celebrates cultural diversity in the Clarence Valley and highlights indigenous culture. “The event will be officially opened by Bundjalung Elder Midge Bancroft at 9am. “Dance and musical performances from various cultures will follow.” At noon, Thomas Mayor, who participated in the Northern Territory dialogue and represented his region in the National Constitutional Reform Convention at Uluru in May 2017, will deliver the keynote address, with a focus on the Uluru Statement. “He provides a fascinating and informative insight into the grassroots campaign,” says Ms Ramanathan. “Thomas is joined by the CVA Healing Centre’s Janelle Brown and Djinders project manager, Rachael Cavanagh. “There will be a Q&A forum … a place for people to engage respectfully.” The event is being held with financial support from Caringa, CRANES and the New School of Arts. “To fundraise for LOETUS to support future activities, we invite artists from the Clarence Valley to set up stalls and sell their works of art and contribute a small portion of sales towards helping our new committee be incorporated,” says Ms Ramanathan. “LOETUS will act as consultation resource in the development and planning of policy, programs and services that impact on multicultural communities in the Clarence Valley.”