MADE, key choices and a vital presence in Ballarat

MADE, key choices and a vital presence in Ballarat

I have always disagreed with the name the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka; it should be more concise and appealing such as The Eureka (Stockade) Centre or Museum.

What is important is that when people see the name and/or read about it and then enter the place they need to be shown, learn and experience the real story of Eureka – which is about the Eureka Stockade and its prelude and aftermath and also what the rebellion stood for; which is the Demand for Democracy. These are the 2 basic themes which are essential and which then set an array of associated presentations within the Centre and the Eureka precinct.

It is important to appreciate that the Eureka precinct is a hallowed place where the diggers at the Stockade were prepared to lay down their lives for freedom and liberty and stood to defend for themselves and others their inalienable democratic rights. At Bakery Hill they “Swore by the Southern Cross To Stand Truly by Each Other And Fight to Defend Our Rights and Liberties”

It is here both in the Museum and outside in the gardens that people could contemplate and commemorate the sacrifice of the noble dead in the cause of Australian democracy.

I believe and visitor numbers would indicate to me the Museum is not adequately presenting these two  themes in the story of Eureka.

Another confusing aspect of MADE in Ballarat is the existence of a Museum of Australian Democracy (same name) in Canberra at Old Parliament House which in the latter case is quite appropriate.  

I believe the composition of the Board is inadequate. The Board should have a better representation of those people/organisations that have a direct relationship with and comprehensive understanding of the Eureka story. These include Eureka’s Children, Eureka precinct Association, Sovereign Hill, Gold Museum, Ballarat Art Gallery, Mechanics Institute, Public Records Office,  Ballarat Library, Federation University and Ballarat Old Cemetery.

 These organisations that are linked to Ballarat and the Eureka story can enhance the vision, direction and commitment of a Eureka Centre.  I believe that this sort of approach is what already happens at the Art Gallery and Sovereign Hill.

Since its establishment in 2013 the Museum’s Management and staff have been challenged in the direction from above and within, in attempting to present the story of Eureka in such a way that will attract and sufficiently engage people to increase visitor numbers. They have not succeeded.

Furthermore since 2013 there has now been 3 Managers. Obviously things need to be put right to attract more visitors..

Whilst the Council has the final responsibility for the Museum they have vested the management of it with the Board. I have already indicated that the Board is inadequate and should include a more direct and local representation on it.

Future in doubt: The upcoming report on MADE's future has had many concerned parties offering their ideas on the way forward.

Future in doubt: The upcoming report on MADE's future has had many concerned parties offering their ideas on the way forward.

Before 2013 when there was a Eureka Centre the Council organised with a variety of Ballarat Eureka associated groups, including Eureka’s Children, regular joint meetings to discuss, plan and organise  various Eureka events and programs throughout the year at the Eureka Centre and precinct as well as at other places in Ballarat. These people and their organisations were helping the Council and the Eureka Centre management.

Whilst Eureka’s Children has always had a continual relationship and input with the Eureka Centre and Museum these regular meetings with the Council including all the other associated groups have not continued since 2013 when the (new) Museum was established. Consequently there should be a better arrangement between the Council, the Board and these associated groups to meet regularly.

Marketing the can only succeed when first of all you have:

·         A clear, concise, attractive and meaningful name for such a Museum/Centre.

·         Have established the core themes of Eureka and developed the relevant stories, events, programs and physical structures that can be presented in a manner that appeals to and stimulates the visitor.

·         Competent management that has knowledge of the subject, creativity, vision, organizational skills, proper representation on a Board or Committee and in this case relevant community input.

Venues such as Sovereign Hill, Gold Museum, Ballarat Art Gallery, Mechanics Institute, Public Records Office, Ballarat Library, Federation University and the Old Cemetery have various programs, events, presentations, information links, etc that interface with the Eureka story.  Consequently there is every opportunity for these organisations to assist and develop joint programs.

Apart from joint programs and representation on special committees some of these organisations  could consider developing  a Ballarat Bus Tourism Link that connects these places (and with the station) where visitors and locals at little or no cost, can board a Bus at any of these points and move on to the next attractive venue of their choice.

It has been reported the future of the Museum will be decided at the next Ballarat City Council meeting where a feasibility study, with various options, will be tabled. I believe it is imperative that the various bodies mentioned above that have a direct relationship with the Eureka story be given the opportunity to review the study for their feedback.

Eureka is embedded in our Australian history, its demands for democracy is embedded in our Australian Constitution. The Charter of Bakery Hill is listed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register and the Eureka Stockade Reserve Site is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. It would not only be sad if a Eureka museum was closed, it would be unforgivable.

Phillip Moore, Past President – Eureka’s Children Inc.