Lisa Collins, Anne Cooper, Nikki Foy, Pauline Smith and Lacey Fisher-Cooper are welcoming everyone to a dawn event at View Point on the shore of Lake Wendouree on 26 January. Photo: CHIPPY RIVERA

A healing step forward at dawn ceremony

January 20, 2020 BY

BEFORE the sun rises on Sunday, 26 January, everyone is welcome to attend Ballarat’s first Survival Day Dawn Ceremony at Lake Wendouree’s View Point.

From 5.30am, the Koorie Engagement Action Group event will feature local Indigenous leaders and acknowledge the survival and strength of First Nations Peoples, their culture, communities and determination to secure a positive future.

Encouraging Indigenous people to be proud of their identity and recognise policies still impacting them in 2020, KEAG member Sissy Austin said the ceremony is part of a “healing journey” for locals and Australia.

“It is important to pause in silence to reflect on the pain inflicted on our song lines and our bloodlines… The pain that we have inherited as Aboriginal people,” she said.

“It is important to acknowledge the powerful resilience of Aboriginal people in this country. January 26 was the beginning of a plan to quite literally exterminate the oldest culture in the world, and yet we are here, surviving. We are survivors.”

Ms Austin hopes non-Indigenous communities can recognise this “pain and suffering” as they would acknowledge days like Anzac Day, which is full of stories of “hurt and survival.

“The lead up to, and the days following January 26 are absolutely exhausting for Koorie community members,” she said.

“The sentiment behind the Survival Day Dawn Service ceremony should be mirrored in all individual actions across the community and country… This is a positive step forward.

“I hope that for the Koorie community, this event is a moment of relief and that it acts as a circuit breaker amongst a painful time of the year.”

The ceremony is strongly supported by the City of Ballarat and KEAG hopes it becomes an annual event.

“It’s a community event, supported by City of Ballarat and our Koori Engagement Action Group,” said deputy mayor, Cr Belinda Coates.

“It’s a first for Ballarat and in line with our Reconciliation Action Plan and commitment to being an Intercultural City. This is recognition that January 26 is a day of mourning for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.”