Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Ballarat launches design search for abuse memorial

City of Ballarat Council has launched a national design competition to identify design professionals to lead collaborative teams in creating a memorial to acknowledge victims of sexual abuse.

The Council says the Continuous Voices Memorial will recognise the pain and trauma caused by all forms of sexual violence.

The space will also be designed to support healing, by helping to continually voice the conversations for change, it said in a statement.

“The project stems back to 2016, when the City of Ballarat was first briefed on community advocacy to develop a permanent site to recognise the impact of sexual assault and sexual abuse in Ballarat,” the Council said.

In 2019, the Continuous Voices Community Reference Group was formed to consult with the Ballarat survivor community on appropriate acknowledgement in the city.

Local resident and secondary school teacher, Blake Curran, whose family has been impacted by the issue, was a driving force behind the development of the memorial.

Working in collaboration with the Reference Group, made up of survivors of abuse and advocates for change, the Council is now conducting a two-stage competition to select a preferred design for the memorial.

“The first stage will be to gather several high-quality design proposals, from which three preferred design options will be selected by the expert panel for further development and consideration,” Council said.

Each of the three final proposals will receive $5,000 to continue working with the Reference Group to develop a comprehensive project plan, before a design concept is chosen.

Council says the expert panel has been carefully selected to include people with a profound understanding and sensibility to the issues and intent of the memorial, together with eminent design professionals.

The design competition brief is now open and the first phase will close on 2 February 2024. The final three shortlisted proposals will be identified by 1 March 2024 and the final design selected by 10 May 2024. It is expected the project will be delivered in 2026.

The Council has committed $520,000 to the $1.5 million project, which has already received a $500,000 commitment from the State Government. A further $500,000 in funding is still being sought.  

The competition was launched at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ballarat on Friday, where Mayor, Des Hudson (pictured at the launch) was joined by Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison, Continuous Voices Community Reference Group members, City of Ballarat Councillors and design expert panel members.

Mayor Hudson said the launch of the competition brief was a monumental milestone and the culmination of years of hard work, but something that recognised many generations.

“This memorial will acknowledge all survivors of sexual abuse and recognise the extent of the pain and trauma caused by all forms of sexual violence,” he said.

“It is vital we have a public space to acknowledge and honour survivors of sexual assault in a peaceful setting, allowing for quiet reflection.

“It is a monumental occasion to launch the design competition and I am confident this design competition will deliver a memorial that will provide victims and survivors, and those who support them, with the recognition and respect they deserve.”

Mr Curran said it was an exciting step for the future memorial.

“This memorial will not only be a space to remember victims of abuse that are no longer with us but also a place to recognise the lasting impact that abuse of this nature has on the wider community,” he said.

“This memorial space should be one that acknowledges that the issue of abuse is much larger than a single story. It is an issue that we need to continue bringing light to.”

Panel chair, David Fitzsimmons – who is also the Creative Urban Places Program Lead with the City of Melbourne Council – said there was already a broad and well-informed foundation for the memorial based on years of engagement, listening and reflection.

“The selection of a prominent and peaceful site in Victoria Park provides for creation of a place, of national significance, offering sanctuary and solace for all those affected,” he said.

“The expert panel for the selection of the design for the memorial is committed to offering all their support to assist in the establishment of a place which not only recognises the gravity of individual experience but also a sense of collective love and hope.”

For more information about the Design Competition, see the Continuous Voices Design Brief and to read more about the Continuous Voices Memorial project, visit the Creative Ballarat website.

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