Wherever we live in the Commonwealth, we can always benefit from being open to the ideas and encouragement of those around us. Each of us can also make a positive difference in the lives of others by being willing to contribute and offer support.
This is an essential ingredient of belonging to the Commonwealth: the willingness to share, to exchange and to act for the common good. By including others, drawing on collective insights, knowledge and resources, and thinking and working together, we lay the foundations of a harmonious and progressive society. The greater the diversity of those included in such a shared enterprise, the greater the gains. Each of us has cause to celebrate the sense of belonging expressed in our 2016 theme: 'An Inclusive Commonwealth'.
Our recognition of this value, and the wisdom of mutual respect for each other, is set out in the Commonwealth Charter. Its opening words, “We the people of the Commonwealth” convey the conviction that individuals, as well as governments, build and shape our success.
Being inclusive and accepting diversity goes far deeper than accepting differences at face value and being tolerant. True celebration of the dignity of each person, and the value of their uniqueness and contribution, involves reaching out, recognising and embracing their individual identity.
At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, there were forums for women, youth, business and civil society. These forums were a place for reflection on how to contribute collectively to achieving positive global change, for which the Commonwealth is widely respected.
Today, and in the year ahead, the theme 'An Inclusive Commonwealth' is an inspiration for us all. Let us give it practical effect by supporting those in need and those who feel excluded in all walks of life. By doing so, we will continue to build a truly representative Commonwealth community.
The Commonwealth Service 2016
The Commonwealth Service: A Celebration of the Commonwealth takes place at Westminster Abbey on Monday 14th March in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and The Duke of York.
The service will be broadcast live for the first time on BBC One from 14.45 – 16.15 hrs, streamed live on www.bbc.co.uk relayed live on the BBC World Service.
For those outside the UK it will be on www.bbc.com/news.
The service from Westminster Abbey in London can be watched until 13th April here and a pdf-file of the order of the service can bedownloaded here.
This Commonwealth Day the Governor of Queensland attended the Commonwealth Day Multi Faith Observance at the Chung Tian Temple hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society of Queensland (RCSQ) and read the Commonwealth Day message from Her Majesty The Queen.