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Ipswich: where ‘everyone belongs’

This week communities across Australia are celebrating their diversity with the theme, ‘everyone belongs’.

It is all part of Harmony Week (15 to 21 March), which is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

In the lead up to Harmony Week, Ipswich City Council asked its residents: what does belonging mean to you?

The result is Faces of Ipswich exhibition which will open on Saturday, 20 March in the Nicholas Street Precinct.

The exhibition tells the stories of the many Faces of Ipswich, exploring the city’s rich diversity which helps make Ipswich such an inclusive and vibrant place to belong.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said that Faces of Ipswich is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diversity that makes Ipswich a great place to work and live.

“Ipswich is a truly multicultural city,” Mayor Harding said.

“Our First Nations peoples have been joined by residents from over 115 different cultural backgrounds across our history, and for every 100 people born in Ipswich, 41 have at least one parent who was born overseas.

“Every cultural group – every person – has made their unique contribution to our community.”

Here’s a sneak peek of the Faces of Ipswich exhibition.

“Belonging to me is a feeling that is made up of a bunch of different elements. It’s a connection that is free of judgement. The people in this photo are all different ages, boys and girls, and from different parts of the world. They don’t care, to them it’s just basketball or handball or soccer. It’s play. They all know each other’s names and they meet once a week to just play.”

– Michael, Australian 

“To me, ‘belonging’ means a safe space to be curious. Curiosity that leads to a discovery of both our differences that ought to be celebrated, as well as our common humanity and the aspects we share when I belong I know that all of me is welcome there.”

– Katharine, South African 

“Belonging comes from being myself and being seen and that can happen anywhere even with people who are totally different from me, even with people who want different things and believe different things. Belonging is acceptance and connectedness. The acknowledgement and acceptance of our similarities and differences create a connectedness that leads to belonging.”

– Rajarajan, Tamil 

“Belonging means embracing Australian values with acceptance of good multicultural traditions. I continuously teach my daughters of gratitude living here in Australia and not forgetting my native tradition that I aim to pass on for generation, to my children and those who are willing to know our culture, clothing and scrumptious Filipino dishes.”

– Sharon, Filipino 

“Belonging to me means being part of an inclusive and welcoming community. It means feeling safe to go out to the shops, to the park and to events knowing that I can be myself and feel like I’m part of the Ipswich family.”

– Keegan, Australian 

“We love deaf culture and use Auslan to varying degrees in the group. Some hear, while some have hearing loss. Belonging provides knowledge, connection, fun, support and freedom to be ourselves. Belonging is being able to express ourselves and be heard. Isolation makes life much harder. We are not designed to be alone.”

– Sarah, Australian 

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