The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Harmony Week
March 20, 2023
Tuesday 21 March is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD). It is also the beginning of Harmony Week in Australia.
As we rejoice in the rich multicultural tapestry of our church and nation as a gift from God, we must not forget our call to address the racism and discrimination that continues to fracture and divide our communities.
"20% of Australians had experienced racial discrimination in the form of race hate talk, and 5% had been attacked due to their race"
Subscribe to our newsletter
If you want to get the latest news from the Uniting Church in Australia then subscribe to our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.
The 2023 theme of the International Day focuses on the urgency of combatting racism and racial discrimination, 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Research tells us we still have work to do to recognise and address racism in lived experience and in our systems and structures.
20% of Australians surveyed by the Challenging Racism Project in 2015-2016 had experienced racial discrimination in the form of race hate talk, and 5% had been attacked due to their race. 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past six months, according to the 2022 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. 43% of non-white Australian employees commonly experience racism at work, according to the Diversity Council.
This day is an enduring reminder of the role we all must play in calling out racism wherever it might be encountered and in seeking positive change for reconciliation and the safety and flourishing of all.
Rev Dr Paul Goh from the Synod of South Australia and Panel Member of the Being a Multicultural Church Circle, has offered a template to help you hold a prayer service to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
It includes this invitation:
Come, all of you who have been ostracised and marginalised.
Come, all of you who have been indifferent in the face of racial injustice.
Come, all of you who have prophetically challenged racism.
Come, all of you who have perpetrated acts of racial injustice.
Come all and receive rest for your weary souls.
Come to the fountain of life and receive grace upon grace.
Explore further resources yourself or with your community
- Racism. It Stops With Me. - Australian Human Rights Commission
- Fight Racism – United Nations
- Fact Sheet - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Australian Human Rights Commission
- Harmony Day should not be used to sweep racism under the rug - Queensland Human Rights Commissioner, Scott McDougall (Sydney Morning Herald)
- It’s Harmony Week, but let’s discuss what it is really about: racism - Erwin Renaldi (ABC)
- Racism at work: a call to anti-racist action for Australian organisations - Peter Anderson (The Conversation)