The Community Relations Commission (CRC) has released a three year strategic plan, Harmony in Action outlining a new vision for the state of NSW that focuses on beliefs and values that unites all Australians and promotes social and economic benefits of cultural diversity.

The new plan was announced by Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities at the CRC’s 14th annual symposium held on Wednesday 20 August 2014 at Novotel Hotel, Parramatta. The symposium was attended by almost a 1000 delegates from diverse communities in NSW.

CRC Chief Executive Officer Hakan Harman while welcoming the delegates at the symposium said that the plan’s purpose was to build and maintain a cohesive and harmonious multicultural society that enriches the lives of all the people in NSW.

“Under the strategic plan, the CRC will engage more broadly with all sections of NSW society, will place a stronger emphasis on multicultural policy and research and will foster closer interactions between communities”, Mr Harman told the audience.

The Symposium theme this year was “Harmony in Action…Our new direction & “The impact on communities in NSW of conflict in other parts of the world”.

The keynote address was given by Hugh Riminton, Network Ten news presenter and former foreign correspondent who introduced himself as the Sri Lankan born migrant and appealed to all Australians in general and the Muslim Australians in particular to “strengthen the centre against the fringe” in order to maintain Australia a great place to live with freedom, pluralism and harmony.

Special address was given by Dr Tim Soutphommasane, the Race Discrimination Commissioner  who elaborated on why multiculturalism works in Australia and the negative and positive connotation of “Team Australia”.

The Symposium also included a statement of recognition by Robert Lester from the Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Council as well as five concurrent workshops on the following topics:

  • Humanitarian perspectives
  • Peace building starts at home
  • Media and social media wars
  • Women’s perspective
  • Young people and intergenerational perspectives

Entertainment at the Symposium was provided by the Juggling Chefs, Leo Bonne, originally from France and George Le Couteur, one of Australia’s leading circus artists.

While elaborating on Harmony in Action plan, Mr Harman said, “We want it to be an organisation for the whole of the NSW population. We want CRC to watch out for threats to disharmony, to actively encourage our cultural producers to truly reflect the multicultural reality of NSW and to create a business environment where all of our advantages are turned into economic success.”

The CRC strategic plan will incorporate its re-branding as Multicultural NSW with the following key objectives:

  • Launching a revitalised grants program which includes a simplified application process and further focuses on initiatives which bring people from diverse backgrounds together to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue;
  • A stronger focus on the beliefs and values which unite us all as Australians – our volunteering ethos, our Aboriginal heritage and our commitment to commemorating those who have served in defence of our freedoms;
  • A refocused and formalised community engagement strategy which will engage across multicultural communities including with religious leaders, women and girls, The Consular Corps and sporting codes to promote social cohesion;
  • Improving employment opportunities and recognition of qualifications for skilled migrants and new arrivals; and
  • Initiatives to combat racism and discrimination.