Celebrating unity in diversity
As part of National Refugee Week, 16-22 June, the Hunter community is invited to take part in a welcome walk and festival celebrating Newcastle’s cultural diversity.
By LIZZIE SNEDDEN
Now in its fifth year, the Newcastle: Celebrating Unity in Diversity Festival event has grown to become the largest multicultural festival in the region. It reaffirms Newcastle as a refugee and asylum seeker welcome city.
Event spokesperson, Phillipa Parsons, said Unity in Diversity has gained widespread support from the community and aims to share a message of peace.
“The family friendly festival is a celebration of humanity, of the rich tapestry of cultures that contribute to a sense of place,” Ms Parsons said.
“It is a chance for people to participate in something positive; an event that promotes a fair, kind and just community.”
The premise of the event echoes sentiments of Pope Francis, who has, on numerous occasions, spoken about the importance of “unity in diversity”.
One such occasion was his visit to the University of Roma Tre in 2017. In speaking with students, he said: “We must always seek unity. Unity that is a totally different thing to uniformity. Unity needs differences: unity in diversity ... when you do that, you go that way, cultures grow, and the cultural level grows because it is a continuous dialogue … I believe that the danger today, it is a real danger, is to design a unity, a uniform globalisation."
With a focus on highlighting and celebrating the cultural diversity of our city, the festival will encompass three stages with more than 20 free multicultural performances and many international food stalls. The ever-popular “language lounge” will return, where you can learn a new language, and there are also opportunities to take part in traditional crafts, drumming and circus workshops, have your hair braided, or get a henna tattoo.
And so, in taking inspiration from Pope Francis, let us all rejoice in our diversity and come together to celebrate at the Newcastle: Celebrating Unity in Diversity Festival. May the occasion be viewed as an opportunity to encounter and accept others in their distinctive religious beliefs and cultural differences and view them as enriching our own experiences through the power of diversity, in a relationship marked by goodwill and by the pursuit of ways we can work together.
The Newcastle: Celebrating Unity in Diversity Festival will be held on Saturday 22 June, from 11am-3pm. The community is encouraged to meet at 11am at Gregson Park, Hamilton, for the welcome walk. As a show of unity in our diversity, participants are welcome to wear traditional dress.
Following the walk, an Awabakal Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony at the park will open the festival. A highlight will be a special dance performance by newly arrived Syrian refugees and African youth.
The festival is sponsored by Newcastle City Council and held in conjunction with Refugee Action Network Newcastle, community group Newcastle: Unity in Diversity, STARTTS, Hunter Community Languages, Refugees and Partners, SSI, and Northern Settlement Services.