In an echo of Virginia's renowned Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a permanent memorial will soon be constructed in Ballarat's Victoria Park, alongside the lake adjacent to Plane Avenue.
This memorial, however, is not to be dedicated to unidentified fallen soldiers, but rather to the innumerable victims directly or indirectly impacted by the long shadow of sexual violence.
City of Ballarat council unanimously committed to the chosen site at this week's ordinary meeting, noting not only the special weight the Continuous Voices project carried within the context of the city's horrifically close association with institutional child sexual abuse, but also the wider prevalence of sexual violence within the community.
"It has been a long road to get to this point," said Cr Belinda Coates, who has worked closely on the project with Ballarat's survivor community since its inception some six years ago.
"The idea for a memorial initially came about as a result of the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse, but it soon became apparent that that was really the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact of sexual violence.
"It became apparent that it's really important for all people to feel seen, heard, believed and supported, and so [this project] aligns well with our stance as a compassionate city."
The memorial would mark a national-first, constituting the only site in Australia wholly dedicated to honouring all persons directly and indirectly impacted by the intergenerational trauma of sexual violence in all its forms.
Blake Curran - the driving force behind Continuous Voices - said the survivor community was "very excited and elated" at council's commitment to the memorial.
"It's been an awesome team effort from everyone for the last few years - everyone has pitched in and helped while dealing with their own demons in the process," he said. "We're all very relieved we've finally got to this point."
Mr Curran, who was just 21 when his father lost his life to trauma of child sexual abuse, added he was heartened that council viewed the proposed memorial as one capable of commanding national significance.
"From the beginning, we've talked about the memorial being nationally significant, similar to a war memorial," he said. "So, it's going to need signage and it looks like council is committed to that, which is great to see."
The City of Ballarat anticipates project costs within the order of $1.5 million, to be shared between council and state or federal government. If external funding is not forthcoming, however, funding will be scaled down to $1 million, with the project solely delivered by City of Ballarat by 2025.
Affected by this story? Call Ballarat CASA Crisis Care line on 1800 806 292; Lifeline 13 11 14; Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 Respect (1800 737 732).
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