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Lutheran Care celebrates Harmony Week 2024

Lutheran Care Staff Members on Harmony Day. The Lutheran Care logo appears in the bottom right hand corner.

Lutheran Care celebrates Harmony Week 2024

This week Lutheran Care is participating in Harmony Week, a time to celebrate and recognise our diversity by bringing people together from all different backgrounds, while also promoting inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.  

Today on Harmony Day (March 21), which is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Lutheran Care is highlighting the diversity within our organisation across our sites and offices.  

This year, we have encouraged our staff and volunteers to wear a ‘touch of orange’ or clothing that represents cultural heritage and participate in events to celebrate the rich mix of cultures and experiences we bring to the table.  

“During Harmony Week, we acknowledge the contributions of multicultural communities to Australian society and within our teams at Lutheran Care” Lutheran Care’s Chief Executive Officer Rohan Feegrade said. 

“It’s encouraging to see the celebration of Harmony Day and the myriad of diversity of culture, perspective and life experiences that make our communities great.  

“It is important, however, that we also do not lose sight of the day’s origin – the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. A day that reminds us of the need to rid our societies of racial prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. 

“Too many individuals and communities suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings, and so along with celebrating the best that cultural diversity has to offer, we should actively work through and acknowledge existing discrimination issues and underlying unconscious biases, to better increase the outcomes and experiences of all people living in Australia. 

“At Lutheran Care, we believe that everyone belongs. We welcome, serve – and work alongside – people from all backgrounds, walks of life, faiths, genders, countries and cultures.” 

Within the current Lutheran Care workforce of staff and volunteers, we are proud and fortunate to have people representing a range of cultures and life experiences. The following statistics freely shared by our staff and volunteers offer a snapshot into the brilliance of our organisation: 

  • 9 people identify as living with a disability 
  • 10 people identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 
  • 29 people identify as being Culturally or Linguistically Diverse 
  • Across our team, 20 languages in addition to English are spoken by 34 people at home, including Algerian Arabic, Arrernte, Auslan (Australian Sign Language), Bosnian, Cebuano, French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kinyarwanda, Malaysian, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Warumungu, Western Punjabi and Yue Chinese. 
  • A total of 44 people or approximately one third of our people were born outside of Australia, including Bosnia, China, Colombia, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the UK.  

We celebrate the differences in each of our team members and the unique skills, perspectives and experiences that we share as a result, the things which bring us together to help others and motivate Lutheran Care values of Social Justice, Inclusion, Commitment and Compassion.  

Lutheran Care’s People and Culture Officer MJ Ballevar has been with Lutheran Care for almost three years. With Filipino heritage, MJ was born and raised in Hong Kong and moved to Australia when she was 15.  

“Growing up in Hong Kong, we celebrated so many different cultures,” MJ said. 

“It was explained to us from a very young age that people believe many different things and have different traditions. Our school had a prayer room for students of Muslim faith, and we were taught why they did their prayers and why it was important to them.  

“It was so much fun growing up to celebrate all the different festivals like Holi festival of colours or breaking fast feasts at Eid.” 

When speaking about how she celebrates her Filipino culture, MJ said food played a central role. 

“In the Philippines our cultural tradition, no matter the occasion, is accompanied with food, music and karaoke,” she said.  

“Hong Kong also has so many traditional events that comes with different types of food and feasts.” 

Gloria Elia, from Lutheran Care’s Marketing and Communications team, was born in New Zealand to Samoan parents and moved to Australia as a young child.  

She said she loves learning about her Samoan heritage and learns mostly from her family.  

“It’s so important to remember your roots and where you come from,” Gloria said. 

“Samoan Siva (dance) is one way that we love to celebrate and it is a beautiful display of our culture; graceful, inclusive and charismatic.” 

Gloria added that as a society, we need to be more open when learning about different cultures in Australia and around the world. 

“There is so much beauty and inspiration to be found in all cultures,” she said.  

“The second we think we have seen it all, is the second we rob ourselves of the chance to be inspired and to grow in awe and respect for others.”