FOR a city steeped in Australian history, Ballarat has no statues overtly offensive or hurtful to the region's Indigenous Peoples. There are street names and places.
As cities in the United Kingdom and United States tear down monuments to slave traders and Confederate leaders, Wadawurrung artist Deanne Gilson and Aboriginal historian Fred Cahir say this is a chance for Ballarat to have mature discussions.
Both Ms Gilson and Dr Cahir said there was such hurt in the past, but we should look forward to cultivate an awareness in a shared understanding of history and to celebrate Aboriginal culture.
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But there was no need to start carving statues of Indigenous people to add to Sturt Street either.
"It's not so much a cultural thing for Indigenous people, it's more a western society thing - statues. Busts have been in history since Roman times. They are two different art forms, different cultures," Ms Gilson said.
"Indigenous people have traditionally had totem poles depicting culture, not much different to a western version of a statue."
Murrup Laarr is Ms Gilson's Indigenous sculpture in the North Gardens, opened last year. Large stones represent the physical body with male and female represented.
From an Indigenous perspective, Ms Gilson said it was likely there were no statues of Aboriginal people in Ballarat because they were viewed secondary to colonisers. Statues were, and still are, expensive investments.
There is an obelisk monument atop King Billy's grave in Ballarat New Cemetery erected in 1897 to mark the seemingly "last of the Ballaarat Tribe of Aborigines", as it is inscribed.
Dr Cahir said this was both obviously inaccurate and out of sight, tucked away in the cemetery.
"It's often struck me in historical records there are so many Aboriginal heroes depicted saving us from drowning, starving and bushfires and yet there is no recognition of their involvement," Dr Cahir said.
He trawled through "white fella" records to better understand international relations between the Wadawurrung and settlers. This was the basis for his book My country all gone - the white men have stolen it.
Dr Cahir said Aboriginal place names in the region, like Warrenheip, tended to be self-serving for settlers. If they got lost and needed directions from an Aboriginal person it made sense to use local names.
There are streets and towns about the region named after, as Dr Cahir says, the "not very nice characters in terms of invasion."
Learmonth is one. There were three brothers. One in particular was implicitly aware his shepherds were using skulls of Wadawurrung people on stakes to ward people of his property.
Dr Cahir, who used to serve on a Victorian Aboriginal place names advisory, said this did not mean Ballarat should start pulling down street signs or changing town names.
We live in the continuation of a place...I have a problem with not acknowledging our odious history.Dr Fred Cahir
"We live in the continuation of a place...I have a problem with not acknowledging our odious history. Surely we have grown up and matured enough to know before there were people around these nation builders, like Learmonth," Dr Cahir said.
"To acknowledge has the potential to dampen down the hotbed for potential violence, not likely to occur in Australia, but flare-ups are not likely to be as tense if this is part of mainstream community and we do acknowledge our previous history."
Dr Cahir said there were positive ways to move forward and acknowledge the voluntary heroics and achievements of Aboriginal people.
Ms Gilson said this exists in art - look to paintings of renowned Aboriginal people on buildings and silos across the state. In that way, Gilson said acknowledgement was growing in a positive way.
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