Australia Day – Survival Day community event

Published on 30 January 2023

Uncle Rick Nelson at Australia Day - Survival Day

Mount Alexander Shire Council extends a big thank you to residents for taking part in its 2023 Australia Day – Survival Day community event.

The day included a moving Welcome to Country, a citizenship and awards ceremony, a Survival Day concert, and delicious catering courtesy of local businesses.

In 2018, under the leadership of Dja Dja Wurrung Elders, Council made the decision to formally dual name events held on 26 January as Australia Day – Survival Day, acknowledging the issue of how celebrations on this day impact First Nations people, and to provide a platform for education and healing through truth-telling.

Council recognises that 26 January is a day of mourning for many First Nations people, and respects their right to mourn as well as their right to celebrate survival.

The Survival Day concert featured local performances programmed by Uncle Rick, who was also the MC.

Council would like to say a big thank you to everyone who performed:

• Bart Willoughby, Selwyn Burns & Tjimba Possum Burns
• D'Arcy Spiller
• The Rattlers
• Jason Kerr and Young Jason Kerr
• The Yung Warriors
• Nalderun Women's Cleansing Ceremony

The event also included a performance by the Castlemaine Highland Pipe Band.

Council would also like to thank the local businesses and community groups who provided catering:

• Murnong Mammas
• Icecream Republic
• Rotary Club of Castlemaine

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Mayor, Cr Rosie Annear, welcomed the community to the event, acknowledging that 26 January is a day of both celebration and mourning.

“I would like to take a moment to welcome you all to our Australia Day – Survival Day community event, and acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in Australia,” said Mayor Annear.

“I would also like to acknowledge that 26 January is a challenging day for many people. It is a day of mourning for many First Nations people, and at Council we recognise that.

“Since being elected to Council in 2020, I’ve been involved in two Australia Day – Survival Day events, and I’ve been so happy to find that the dual celebrations have been inclusive, genuine and joyous occasions.

“They’ve celebrated Australia and the people who make our community a great place to live, without shying away from the fact that this is a day of mourning and deep grief for many members of our community.

“Thank you for being here today to acknowledge and celebrate Australia Day – Survival Day. I feel very lucky to be here with you all.”

2023 Australia Day Awards

Council is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Australia Day Awards.

The awards were presented at the Australia Day – Survival Day community event in Castlemaine on Thursday 26 January.

Congratulations the 2023 winners:

Citizen on the Year – George Milford
Young Citizen of the Year – Bodie Maffescioni
Senior Citizen of the Year – William Chapman
Community Event of the Year – The MAIN Game

“Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for their outstanding work,” said Mayor Annear.

“We’re very fortunate to have you in our community, and I’d like to recognise your generosity and hard work.”

Along with the presentation of the Australia Day Awards, 13 people took the pledge to become Australian citizens at the community event.

“Congratulations to everyone who received their Australian citizenship,” said Mayor Annear, “and a big welcome to the community.

“My door is always open if you need anything or want to have a chat, and I’m sure you’ll find the Mount Alexander Shire community to be very welcoming and friendly.”

Read more about the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2023 Australia Day Award winners:

Citizen on the Year – George Milford

George Milford is a passionate volunteer in the Mount Alexander Shire community.

He is involved in a number of local organisations such as: Harcourt Heritage Centre, Harcourt Cemetery Trust, Harcourt District Leisure Centre, Harcourt Uniting Church, Harcourt Valley Landcare Group, Castlemaine Legacy Group, Castlemaine Art Gallery & Historical Museum Foundation, Buda Historic Home & Garden, S.R. Stoneman and Castlemaine District Uniting Church Parish.

George puts 100% into everything that he does. He’s an invaluable member of each group as well as the community as a whole.

Young Citizen of the Year – Bodie Maffescioni

Bodie Maffescioni is a volunteer and community member committed to supporting the mental health of people in the community.

He has had several volunteer roles over the past five years, including a Council Youth Advisory Group member, a contributor to When Life Sucks: Mental health consultation and a volunteer with Castlemaine Safe Space. Bodie is also a passionate disability support worker with Windarring.

Brodie provides support, care and gratitude to those around him and is a mentor to other young people. He is a hard worker and is always thinking about what is best for his community.

Senior Citizen of the Year – William Chapman

Bill Chapman is a dedicated volunteer and well-loved member of the Castlemaine community.

He has volunteered with the Castlemaine Fire Brigade, the CFA, St Mary’s Catholic Church, Loddon Prison, the Castlemaine & Maldon Railway Preservation Society, the Loddon Miniature Steam Locomotive Society and Legacy. He is still an active member of many of these organisations.

As well as the time he spends volunteering in his community, Bill has raised eight children with his wife Ros in Castlemaine, where they recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

Bill’s dedication to his community and passion for volunteering began in his teens and continues into his 80s.

Community Event of the Year – The MAIN Game

The MAIN Game is an annual fundraising event held by Castlemaine’s local radio station, MAINfm.

The day includes an Aussie rules footy match between two teams: the Radio Galahs and the Rockatoos. The teams are made up of radio presenters, local musicians and members of the community, welcoming people of all genders, ages and abilities. The day also includes live entertainment, food stalls and a bar.

As well as hosting a fantastic event, MAINfm fosters a welcoming and inclusive space for all members of the community to learn and express themselves. They’re committed to nourishing diversity, respect, inclusion and innovation, and are a deeply-loved community institution.

Watch Australia Day – Survival Day 2023

The event was livestreamed to YouTube on the day; you can watch the recording on our YouTube channel.