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City of Ballarat introduces extended January 26 program of events

Rhiannon Clarke -

An extended program of activities including a Community Reflection and Healing Day is set to compliment Ballarat's upcoming fifth annual Survival Day Dawn Ceremony, set to be held on 26 January.

In 2020, the inaugural Survival Day Dawn Ceremony took place in Ballarat on Wadawurrung land. Since its inception the ceremony, organised by the Koorie Engagement Action Group (KEAG), has seen a consistent increase in attendance.

As January 26 nears, the fifth iteration of this event promises to be even more special with the presence of esteemed guests including Uncle Andrew Jackomos, Uncle Alan Harris, Mel Peters, and MC Belinda Duarte.

This year's Dawn Ceremony will showcase a ceremonial circle, local community dancers, and a Wadawurrung Smoking Ceremony.

The event will continue until 6.40am, allowing participants to fully immerse themselves in the significant occasion.

Respected local figure and Noongar Elder from the Bibbulman clan of the Noongar Nation and the Ngaanyatjarra people of the Western Desert, Uncle Alan Harris shared what Survival Day meant to him ahead of the event.

"It's absolutely crucial for every Australian to courageously take strides in forging unity within this, our nation, and relentlessly work towards constructing a robust and interconnected community," he said.

"Together, let us declare our unwavering allegiance to diversity, transforming it into the rallying anthem that echoes fiercely through the very heart of our country. This is my Survival Day Message."

Advisory committee, the Koorie Engagement Action Group brings its expertise in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters to the City of Ballarat.

KEAG Co-Chair and proud Narungga woman, Sarah Jane Hall, said the event aims to create a space for reflection, healing, and unity among all Australians.

"The Survival Day Dawn Ceremony is an inclusive event that acknowledges and commemorates the resilience and strength of Indigenous Australians despite the historical and ongoing traumas they have faced." she said

KEAG will extend the day's offerings by hosting a Community Reflection and Healing Day from 9am to 2pm at View Point, Lake Wendouree.

Some of the activities on the day will include:

- A Wadawurrung poetry workshop.

- Ochre education sessions and cultural activities.

- Yidaki/Didgeridoo lessons for men and boys.

- A Welcome Weaving Hub and Craft Stations led by Aboriginal artists as part of City of Ballarat's celebration as a UNESCO City of Craft.

- An author talk with Black & Write Festival director Jane Harrison on her book, The Visitors.

- Local Musicians including Deborah and Trudy Fatnowna Edgeley.

- A Wadawurrung cleansing ceremony for one and all to start the year together with a focus on reconciliation and celebrating deep histories and cultures.

City of Ballarat Deputy Mayor, Cr Peter Eddy said the Survival Day Dawn Ceremony and the inaugural Community Reflection and Healing Day is an inclusive event for all.

"These events are a recognition of the continuity and survival of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures," he said.

"We fully acknowledge that 26 January is an incredibly difficult day for many people, and it is absolutely crucial we never forget that. These events are about cultural strengthening and creating safer places for First Nations people.

"Our community has been excellent in supporting this event since its inception and this year the extended program allows those who attend the opportunity to experience the cultures of our country's First Nations Peoples."

KEAG co-chair and City of Ballarat Councillor, Belinda Coates, said the community was warmly invited to join in solidarity for truth-telling, healing and learning.

"The annual event recognises and pays respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' cultures, Country, and histories," she said.

"Come along and be part of a meaningful, healing and respectful journey."

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