A Sydney state school has told white students to wear the colour orange on Harmony Day in recognition of their “invader ancestry.”`
Dulwich Hill Public School’s Principal, Linda Wickham, notified school members in a mailout last month that the school was holding a Harmony Day Special Assembly where students and family members will be invited to wear national costumes of their ancestral or former birth countries.
Students and families with “settler/invader ancestry,” however, were instead encouraged to wear orange, the official colour chosen to “show support for a culturally diverse” Australia.
The notice read:
Students are invited to wear the national costume of an ancestral, former, birth country and so are you parents and carers.
For those of us who have settler/invader ancestry, the colour ORANGE is the Harmony Day colour – and I encourage students and family members to join me wearing orange.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, which leads the national celebrations for Harmony Week, orange signifies “communication and meaningful conversation” and “relates to the “freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.”
A former member of the school community told Caldron Pool they were shocked when they received the notice and said it unfairly stigmatises white school children.
“I felt that by telling ‘students of settler/invader ancestry’ to wear orange, they were deliberately targeting white students in a way that would only make them feel shame about their appearance and cultural background.”
They went on to say, “It is also disingenuous, because all Australians, apart from those who have Indigenous backgrounds, could be considered as settlers and invaders, no matter what their skin colour is.”
Since 1999, more than 80,000 Harmony Week events have been held in childcare centres, schools, community groups, churches, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies across Australia.
In 2021, a Melbourne high school came under fire for publicly shaming white students as Christian “oppressors.”
According to the Herald Sun, Parkdale Secondary College, in Mordialloc, was visited by a social worker from the local council who delivered a presentation on privilege and intersectionality.
During the presentation, white Christian, male students were said to have been brought before their peers and told they were responsible for being “oppressors” by virtue of their inherited privilege.
“It was so messed up,” a 16-year-old student told the Herald Sun. “We thought for a moment it was a joke, but then we realised it wasn’t and we were so upset and angry by it.
“She basically said straight, white Christian males were oppressors and they held all the power and privilege in society.”