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Central Highlands Water embrace (NAIDOC)

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Bryon Powell Aboriginal Elder and Chair of the Regional Aboriginal Party; Shanahn Lenton Central Highlands Water Trainee Parks and Gardens (part Aboriginal employee of CHW), and Tara McIlroy Central Highlands Water Natural Resource Officer.

We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate. Central Highlands Water has embraced this year’s NAIDOC theme and celebrated their historical connection to the Ballarat regions traditional owners of the land, the Wathaurung People.

Central Highlands Water Chair Jeremy Johnson stated, “Diversity and inclusion is an area our organisation is very passionate about. This week, in recognition of the history, culture and achievements of our local Indigenous People, our staff has engaged in many traditional Indigenous activities.” Local Wadawurrung Elder Bryon Powell of the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation led a Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony at the picturesque Kirks Reservoir Park before the Aboriginal flag was raised at the site. Kirks Reservoir has recently become the location of an important historical discovery with Federation University student George Hook locating the watering hole depicted in the 1854 Eugene von Guérard’s painting Warrenheip Hills near Ballarat.

Research Supervisor Jennifer Jones-O’Neill said, “The University is very proud of George and his leading research into Eugene von Guérard’s art work throughout the Ballarat region. We look forward to working with George and other researchers and artists to expand our knowledge of the region’s rich artistic heritage.” said Ms Jones-O’Neill. The discovery links European and Indigenous history to the reservoir, now managed by Central Highlands Water. NAIDOC Week has been influential for Central Highlands Water staff. ”We have a pop up art gallery showcasing local Indigenous art at our head office in Ballarat and have learnt about the many Indigenous artefacts that have been found across the Central Highlands region” said Mr Johnson.

NAIDOC, or National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee, was first promoted as a National Aborigines’ Week in 1975 to show the rich cultural heritage of the first Australians and their contribution to the nations identity.