The City of Ballarat's Koorie Engagement Action Group has been recognised at a Reconciliation Victoria awards ceremony, the same week two members resigned over the controversial January 26 fireworks.
The group's Survival Day Dawn Ceremony held for the first time this year on January 26, received a Highly Commended Award in the Local Government category of the HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Awards on Friday.
Indigenous members of the Koorie Engagement Action Group Rachel Muir and Sissy Austin resigned after councillors disagreed on moving Ballarat's January 26 fireworks display to another date at the May 27 council meeting.
The group has long called for the fireworks display to be moved to another date to acknowledge January 26 as a day of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Survival Day Dawn Ceremony held on January 26 this year was one of the first times the day has been recognised in this way in a regional city.
City of Ballarat Deputy Mayor Cr Belinda Coates congratulated KEAG on its success in developing an initiative that brought the community together for an inclusive ceremony to promote understanding, respect and advance reconciliation in the Ballarat community.
"This is a well-deserved acknowledgement and recognition of an event that was embraced not only by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, but the broader Ballarat community," she said.
The Lake Wendouree ceremony was attended by more than 1000 people and featured a smoking ceremony, speakers from across the community, and a powerful delivery of the dates of massacres.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor confirmed the event would be ongoing each year, with council's support.
Earlier this week Cr Coates said it was disappointing councillors voted against moving the January 26 fireworks display.
"KEAG and the broader Indigenous community, over a long period of time, have been really quite patient in trying to gradually walk towards some changes," she said.
"There's councillors not genuinely willing to come to the table, and that's been a challenge."
Councillors resolved to vote for a motion which included a commitment for council to collaborate with the Koorie Engagement Action Group in its plans for future January 26 activities.
Other members of KEAG include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal representation from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, Federation University, Victoria Police, the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC), the Wathaurong Aboriginal Corporation, Centacare and Child and Family Services Ballarat.
Mildura Regional City Council and the council's Aboriginal Action Committee was announced as the winner for the Local Government category HART Award for its Mildura Corroboree.
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