New program of events for all on January 26 Survival Day

New program of events for all on January 26 Survival Day
New program of events for all on January 26 Survival Day

Ballarat’s fifth annual Survival Day Dawn Ceremony on 26 January will be complemented this year by the addition of a Community Reflection and Healing Day program of activities which will extend into the afternoon.

In what is becoming one of the most meaningful events on the city’s calendar, the Koorie Engagement Action Group (KEAG) invites everyone to the ceremony to be held from 5.30am at View Point, Lake Wendouree.

KEAG is an advisory committee that provides the City of Ballarat with expertise in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters.

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.”

The first Survival Day Dawn Ceremony on Wadawurrung lands was held in Ballarat in 2020. The ceremony, initiated by the KEAG has grown in attendance steadily since its inception and in 2024, the fifth iteration will see special guests include Uncle Andrew Jackomos PSM, Uncle Alan Harris, Mel Peters and MC Belinda Duarte.

This year the Dawn Ceremony will feature a ceremonial circle, local community dancers and a Wadawurrung Smoking Ceremony. The Survival Day Dawn Ceremony will run until 6.40am.  

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 deborahN and Trudy Fatnowna Edgeley
  • a 1.30pm 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.”

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

“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.”

Sarah Jane Hall, KEAG Co-Chair and proud Narungga woman, 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. 

For more information, visit the Survival Day Dawn Ceremony and Free Cultural Activities webpage.


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