Reconciliation recognition

Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, Uncle Rick Nelson, organises the annual Survival Day concert held in Castlemaine.

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Australia Day – Survival Day event has been recognised with a Reconciliation Victoria award.

The event was among the winners of the 2024 Maggolee Awards, which celebrate and recognise strong partnerships between Victorian local governments and First Nations Peoples.

Castlemaine Australia Day – Survival Day is a community event held annually on January 26.

The day includes the shire’s Australia Day Awards, citizenship ceremony and an afternoon Survival Day concert – programmed by Uncle Rick Nelson.

The event was first held in 2018 in collaboration with Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, Uncle Rick Nelson, and has continued every year since.

“Australia Day – Survival day has come so far since my father (Uncle Brien Nelson) first raised the Aboriginal Flag, and since Aunty Julie McHale won the Citizen of the Year award in 2017,” Uncle Rick said.

“Now we have an amazing event with a concert that celebrates our survival, with such a diverse and incredible level of talent performing on the day.

“We’re all community, we’ve got to live side by side, so we need to work together to move forward, towards reconciliation.

“An event like Australia Day – Survival Day does just that, it promotes unity in our shire and beyond.”

Mount Alexander Shire mayor, Cr Matthew Driscoll, was proud to see the event recognised and celebrated.

“For many people, January 26 is a day of mourning and one that brings mixed feelings,” he said.

“At council, we wanted to host an event that respects our First Nations community’s right to mourn as well as their right to celebrate survival.

“Everyone who’s been to one of our Australia Day – Survival Day events knows it’s a really special day, and that it gets better and better each year.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in making Australia Day – Survival Day the amazing event that it is. This award is well deserved.”