A PROPOSAL FOR THE RENEWAL OF THE EUREKA CENTRE IN TANDEM WITH THE NATIONAL COMMEMORATION AND CELEBRATION OF EUREKA 160

OFF

29 April 2014

The Board Members

Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka – MADE

Cnr Eureka and Rodier StreetsBALLARAT VIC 3350

Dear Friends

RE: A PROPOSAL FOR THE RENEWAL OF THE EUREKA CENTRE IN TANDEM WITH THE NATIONAL COMMEMORATION AND CELEBRATION OF EUREKA 160

 

On 5 March 2014, page I wrote to the Mayor of the City of Ballarat Cr Joshua Morris to offer my input into the planning for the commemoration and celebration of the 160th anniversary of the 1854 Eureka uprising. To date I have not yet received a response.

As you are aware, I have recently been outspoken in my views on MADE and its development and future. I want to assure you that I only have the best intentions for MADE and want to see it continue to operate in a sustainable, stable environment. I have a fundamental belief that Eureka was the cornerstone of the foundation of our democracy.

Whilst the battle at the Eureka Stockade tends to overshadow the intent of the diggers on the goldfields in 1854, it is important to acknowledge that men lost their lives in their honourable pursuit for a fair go.

The Ballarat Reform League Charter, also known as the Charter of Bakery Hill, should be celebrated as the instrument by which the men and women on the Ballarat goldfields sought to change what was an unjust, brutal and corrupt administration.

The Charter is enshrined in the Victorian Constitution and those of the other states and territories, as well as the Federal constitution.

The 160th anniversary of Eureka presents an opportunity to create further national awareness of the significance of Eureka through a strategic marketing and communications strategy.

Added to this must be the intent to engage with the youth across the nation so that they can understand and appreciate the importance of our democracy from Eureka to today. This should be done through education and curriculum materials.

In doing this, we must also create events at MADE that encourage both local and national participation, so as to increase visitation to MADE and the promotion of Ballarat, further enhancing our national profile.

We also need to recognise that there is a lack of a sense of ownership and pride from the Ballarat community for an event that began our nation’s journey on its democratic path, and sets Ballarat apart from any other city in Australia.

It seems that in adopting an emphasis on the historical development of democracy in an international context, the relevance of Eureka continues to be neglected at home.

The careful and strategic staging of the 160th celebrations could go a long way to removing the indifference towards Eureka at both a local and national level. This will only happen when the Board, Council, the Ballarat community and the major political parties collectively seize the mantle of leadership on Eureka in the lead-up to the celebrations this year in 2014, as it did in 2004 for the 150th.

I suggest the following elements should underpin any plan for the resurrection and immediate elevation of the significance of Eureka in preparing for the 160th anniversary in December this year.

First, I firmly believe that the name MADE is ineffectual and that the centre should revert back to its original name of ‘The Eureka Centre’ – at the birthplace of the Australian spirit!

Second, I recommend that the centre introduce free admission. Australians shouldn’t have to pay to visit see the Eureka Flag or find out about this significant part of their nation’s story. The centre must then create commercial revenue opportunities to compensate for the removal of this revenue stream.

Third, a national survey must be undertaken immediately to ascertain what the catalyst was to attract young people’s interest in Anzac Day.  The findings will provide a valuable insight into how we can encourage interaction with Eureka from a youth perspective.

These findings should also inform the development of a strategic marketing and communications plan that seeks to engage all Australians with Eureka and encourage visitation to the centre and participation in various Eureka activities that reflect our democratic values.

And fourth, I call on the Board to lobby Council to immediately seek bipartisan support from the Victorian Parliament for the centre to become a statutory body of the state, as was recommended in the original feasibility study (SKM) and business plan (PricewaterhouseCoopers), or, alternatively, as an annexe of Museums Victoria, like the Immigration Museum. Such an arrangement would then, as per the original redevelopment plans, reduce substantially Council’s financial commitment to the centre.

Ballarat must engage, promote and have pride in its unique story that led to the democratic freedoms we enjoy today. We are the lucky country, but unless you travel overseas and observe firsthand the experiences of people from other countries, this fact is not as well appreciated as it could be.

If we are genuine about the promotion of Eureka, Ballarat must create events and activities that will gain major local, state, national and international media exposure.

In early December, I lobbied Sharon Knight MP Member for Ballarat West to ask the Premier in Parliament what funding would be available for Eureka 160. I understand that the state government will shortly announce funding for Eureka 160.

I also lobbied Cr Samantha McIntosh to ask Council CEO Anthony Schinck at the December Council meeting what was planned for the commemoration and celebration of Eureka 160, knowing full well that matter had not even been discussed! Mr Schinck’s response was that Council was well advanced with its planning. Nearly four months later there is still no plan!

Therefore it is essential we engage with all Australia, not just Ballarat, and it is to this end I propose the following actions:

 

National recognition

  • Take the Eureka Flag (Flag of the Southern Cross) and the Ballarat Reform League Charter to the Australian Parliament next year and place them next to the copy of the Magna Carta, which is located between the House of Representatives and the Senate, directly beneath the Australian Flag flying above Parliament House.
  • Seek recognition of the Flag of the Southern Cross as a national flag through advocacy of the state parliament to the members and senators of the Australian Parliament.
  • Fly the Eureka Flag from all state and territory parliament houses on Eureka Day.
  • Develop national curriculum material for distribution, in hard copy and online, to all educational institutions at primary, secondary and tertiary levels in the lead-up to the 160th.

Do not underestimate the power of the Eureka Flag to gain media exposure.  Its display at Parliament House in Canberra would also gain the attention of all politicians and present the best opportunity to gain support from all political parties for the parliamentary recognition of the Flag of the Southern Cross (the Eureka Flag) as a national flag, similar to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag.

Flying the Eureka Flag from state and territory parliament houses will further promote the significance of Eureka, as was done for the 150th anniversary.

The development and distribution of Eureka curriculum materials is a no-brainer.

 

Ballarat promotion 

  • Recognise significant dates: 11 November – the ratification of the Ballarat Reform League Charter; 29 November – first raising of the Eureka Flag during the monster meeting at Bakery Hill; 30 November – the burning of licences and marching to Eureka Lead to establish the stockade; 2 December – vigil held by miners; 3 December –  storming of the Eureka Stockade.
  • Re-create the march from Bakery Hill to the Eureka Stockade.
  • Commemorate the men, women and children of Eureka at the Old Ballarat Cemetery.
  • Celebrate Eureka’s legacy to our nation’s democracy with a people’s party at the Eureka Stockade Gardens – a celebration under the Southern Cross.  It could include a Festival of Word – written, spoken and performed through speech, music, writing, performance and education.  It would also include the largest massed choir that will sing to demonstrate our democratic voice – our right to a say, our right to be heard.
  • Create a national international youth democracy forum and invite Malala Yousafzai to be its keynote speaker. Encourage the engagement of schools nationally through a participatory competition that culminates with an exhibition in Ballarat, which would later tour to every state and territory.
  • Seek support from commercial media outlets and the national broadcaster, the ABC.

Events and activities that encourage participation also confirm that Eureka belongs to the community, both locally and nationally. Such creative events gain major media exposure.

In saying all of this, it is not about throwing money at Eureka 160.  It is about being strategic so as to increase and grow awareness of Eureka across the nation and encourage a high level of participation and pilgrimage to this site of national and international significance. Importantly, it could also serve as the platform for the relaunch of an all-new ‘Eureka Centre’.

And why is this important?  I will leave that to the eloquent words of Andrew Leigh MP:

There’s nothing ‘conservative’ or ‘nostalgic’ about a love of history and tradition. I take it as read that the Eureka principles will always mean something to all us.

To any of us. Beneath the turbulence, anger and fear, in the stark commitment gone beyond class, race and gender, as the first gunshots burn the dawn stillness, we can each of us, all of us, stand there in the morning fog and we can know what we stood for. What we stand for.

For an idea that continues to epitomise Australia’s success, safety and ambition in a world often beset by a sea of troubles. An idea born in Ballarat that our nation lives and defends. An idea – the idea – undeniable, reliable and precious – that, beneath our radiant Southern Cross, we can, and will, advance.

Eureka matters; it is the quintessential Australian story of the birth of our democratic values and the fundamental belief in the ‘fair go’. And it happened right here in Ballarat – the birthplace of the Australian spirit.

I offer my assistance to achieve these endeavours to ensure Eureka rightfully gains its place in the hearts and minds of all Australians.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ron Egeberg

A proud descendent of Eureka and Ballarat resident.

 

 

Categories: Blog, Uncategorized
This post was written by , posted on May 3, 2014 Saturday at 11:04 pm

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