We Are Ballarat celebrates all of us – the people who define our city – and aims to empower us to work towards the strengthening of Ballarat’s social fabric.
MOVING to Ballarat, it didn’t take We Are Ballarat Ambassador Sara Quon long to figure out what made her new hometown special.
“I’ve been living here for just over two years, and I think it’s the combination of intense community pride and passion, but also an ambition for our future and where we’re heading,” the chief executive officer at Sovereign Hill Museums Association and Narmbool said.
“(There’s) such an active community conversation around who we want to be as a community into the future.”
When COVID-19 was first detected, the subsequent closures of international borders was first felt by operators like Sovereign Hill, with the full impact of lockdowns in Victoria proving to be one of the most difficult periods to date for the outdoor museum. But with last week’s announcement about the return of Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill, there is certainly a sense of optimism in the air.
According to Ms Quon, however, the show of support from the Ballarat community was a beacon of light amongst the storm.
“Through COVID, Sovereign Hill clearly, as all of the businesses in the tourism and arts sector, had a very difficult time,” she said.
“It was immense to see throughout our closure and when we reopened, the Ballarat community reaching out to us, sharing with us what we meant to them and really giving us a sign of support.
“It helped our staff and volunteers understand the role we have in community and how valued we were.”
There’s no doubt Ms Quon is a key player when it comes to the city’s growth, particularly through her work on the boards of Visit Victoria and Committee for Ballarat.
But she said every resident had a role to play in Ballarat’s development and post-COVID recovery, regardless of background or trade.
“One particular way you can (help Ballarat’s recovery) is reach out to your friends and family. Remind them of all that we have on. Invite them to come, invite them to engage,” she said.
“Be passionate about Ballarat. Advocate for Ballarat. You can be a Ballarat ambassador.”
Using words such as innovative, passionate, driven, thought-provoking, ambitious, creative and community-minded, Ms Quon said she was excited for the future prospects of her city.
She said it was imperative to continue showing forth kindness and generosity in order to progress together.
“I think the sense of kindness and compassion we saw for each other through COVID, if we can continue to have that patience and that empathy for our neighbour and for our local businesses, that’s what community-led recovery is to me,” she said.
“My dreams are that we continue to have this thought-provoking conversation about who we are evolving into as a community for the long-term.
“The themes that start to evolve are around the importance of education, social inclusion… sustainability, but also a creative community where we have intense pride in our makers.
“All of these things come together to give that special identity to Ballarat and I dream that we continue to be a thoughtful community, empowering ourselves to make those things happen.”
By rallying the community in a spirit of support and togetherness, and with the vision of recovery firm in our minds, we can propel our city forward. We are Ballarat. And we are all in this together.
Find out more at weareballarat.com.au.