An online forum will explore how cities worldwide, including Ballarat, can heal after community-wide trauma.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat and Compassionate Ballarat are hosting the Compassionate Responses Forum as a member of the Global Charter for Compassion on Saturday, with international speakers set to form the panel.
Forum chair and Compassionate Ballarat steering group member Dr Lynne Reeder said while Ballarat suffered a traumatic history of institutional child sexual abuse, many cities worldwide had their own collective experience of different forms of trauma.
Frank Liddy from Compassionate Belfast will present during the online forum, reflecting on Belfast's work to address trauma from The Troubles, a 30-year period of politically driven conflict from the 1960s.
In sharing, hopefully we all take something away that adds to the experience of helping to heal our communities.Cr Belinda Coates
Director of the Human Values Centre in the US Dr Laura Burgis, chair of the EU Restorative Justice Group Professor Tim Chapman and Newcastle University Professor Kath McPhillips will also form the panel.
Dr Reeder said the forum was an Art Gallery of Ballarat initiative in association with the Out of the Darkness exhibition, which explored institutional child sexual abuse, and the City of Ballarat's Continuous Voices project.
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She said community healing would help Ballarat move beyond being defined by its history of institutional child sexual abuse, to acknowledging it as an integrated part of the city's story.
"We thought bringing together other cities involved with the Charter for Compassion would give us the opportunity to get that bigger picture of traumas, whatever they are, defining cities," Dr Reeder said.
"The speakers will talk about the ways in which other cities around the world have addressed community-wide trauma."
Compassionate Ballarat steering group member Denise White said the forum was a great example of the global Charter for Compassion at work.
"We are able to join together and there is support in that sense of global," she said.
"It is to share the feeling that Ballarat is not the only place that has suffered."
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates will provide an update on Continuous Voices during the forum.
The project has used creative arts to conduct consultation and community engagement to help inform the establishment of a memorial in Ballarat.
Members of the community have shared their experiences and thoughts through five creative projects including a spoken word piece, drawing, sculpture and photography.
See the Words Out spoken word piece below.
Cr Coates said the next step for Continuous Voices was to establish a memorial site and develop a design brief.
An artist or designer will then be appointed and commissioned.
"It will be a community design process. It will continue to evolve," Cr Coates said.
"It is a very unique project in that it deeply connects trauma and creativity. You can't necessarily predict how that will evolve because it is very unique to each person."
Cr Coates said she would like to see Ballarat defined by the support and compassion shown to each other through the process of healing, rather than by the experience of trauma.
She said the forum was an opportunity to share Ballarat's experience of Continuous Voices with others from around the globe, while learning from their experience.
"In sharing, hopefully we all take something away that adds to the experience of helping to heal our communities," she said.
Visit artgalleryofballarat.com.au/gallery_events/forum-out-of-the-darkness-compassionate-responses/ to register for the forum.
Affected by this story? There is help available. Phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292, or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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