Indigenous ceremony to dawn again on Australia Day

City of Port Phillip
The award-winning We-Akon Dilinja (mourning reflection) ceremony will again open Port Phillip’s official Australia Day events on 26 January.

The dawn ceremony in St Kilda, presented by the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council (BLSC), is supported by Port Phillip Council and the National Australia Day Council. The event will also be livestreamed, allowing people across Australia to witness the ceremony.

The culture and history of the Traditional Owners is conveyed through readings, music and a smoking ceremony. A multi-faith component adds to the inclusive spirit of the event, now in its third year.

BLSC N’arweet Jason Briggs said this year’s theme, Healing through Remembrance, Reflection and Recognition, is especially meaningful at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the benefits of community connection.

“These inspiring words reflect the extent of the partnership the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council has developed with the City of Port Phillip,” N’arweet Briggs said.

“This ceremony is an important step in acknowledging our shared history with other Australians who’ve come to our Country. It is our hope that this shared ceremonial acknowledgement will lead to a greater appreciation of Boonwurrung history that has been carried forward, over time, by each generation to the present day.”

Mayor Marcus Pearl said Port Phillip is proud to be the first Australian council to have facilitated an Indigenous remembrance ceremony of this kind. In 2020, Reconciliation Victoria jointly awarded the City of Port Phillip and BLSC a special acknowledgement award in the local government category of its HART Awards (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together).

“This ceremony is about all members of our community having the opportunity to come together to acknowledge and reflect on the past while celebrating the enduring culture of the First Peoples of this land,” Cr Pearl said.

“We-Akon Dilinja is a significant opportunity to continue to work alongside local Traditional Owners to advance our Reconciliation commitment.”

We-Akon Dilinja will operate under a comprehensive COVID-safe plan, including pre-booking attendance. Register for a free ticket through https://www.trybooking.com/BWTGL or watch the livestream at https://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/we-akon-dilinja Any COVID-related updates will be communicated via social media and our website.

After this year’s ceremony, Cr Pearl will officiate at the traditional Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at the St Kilda Town Hall where 100 conferees from 31 countries will become citizens. Due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions, attendance is invitation only.

WE-AKON DILINJA PROGRAM (Alfred Square, St Kilda)

5.45 am – Arrival requested

6.00 am – Didgeridoo player – Kiernan Ironfield

6.02 am – MC – Bo Svoronos

6.04 am – Boonwurrung Welcome Song – James Henry

6.06 am – Welcome to Country and Introduction – Parbinata Dr Carolyn Briggs AM

6.10 am – N’arweet Jason Briggs

6.15 am – Boonwurrung song – Shauntai Batzke

6.17 am – 1st reading – Dick Gross

6.19 am – Shofar with Jewish prayer – Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann

6.21 am – Boonwurrung performance – Shauntai Batzke

6.23 am – 2nd reading – Cr Marcus Pearl, City of Port Phillip Mayor

6.25 am – Tribute to past Boonwurrung Elders – Parbinata Carolyn Briggs and Michael Julian

6.30 am – Boonwurrung performance

6.35 am – Smoking Ceremony – David Tournier

7.00 am – Close

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