Mail Covering the Dandenongs in the Yarra Ranges & Cardinia Shires
Australia Day Tuesday, 29 January, 2019
A Mail News Group publication
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Special award By Casey Neill Belgrave’s Emma Taylor didn’t accept her Australia Day award at Yarra Ranges Council’s ceremony on 26 January. She received her certificate of recognition from Mayor Tony Stevenson at a separate event. Ms Taylor helps to organise the Survival Day event, to increase understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Hills residents held the first Belgrave Survival Day was held on 26 January 2008. It’s been held at Borthwick Park since 2011 and attracts up to 3000 people. Ms Taylor has been co-ordinating the children’s activities for the event and this year introduced a calm zone. She said this was a quiet space for families who had children with sensory issues. She said the festival could be a difficult environment for these kids, and wanted to encourage families who’d avoided the event in the past to come along. Ms Taylor said Survival Day was a celebration space for indigenous culture. “The hills is such an embracing, warm community,” she said. “One of the things that we’re leading with this year is it’s a conversation-starter rather than a conversation-stopper.” She hopes the day will keep indigenous stories within focus. “As a non-indigenous person, it’s about not claiming anything as my own but walking alongside and being a voice of companionship,” she said. Ms Taylor moved to Australia 13 years ago.
“I want to be part of that voice of change,” she said. She’s taken advice from Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place’s Les Chessells, particularly about welcoming people to country. “You can’t stuff it up if you say it from the heart,” she said. “You just need to know who the people of the land are and what it is to meet on their country. “It’s a really beautiful thing.” Ms Taylor also supports the Belgrave Lake Park Cottage Playgroup and Kallista Kindergarten. As the playgroup’s president she manages bookings for party hire at the cottage, which is a key fund-raiser for the group. “I’ve been on the volunteer committee for five or six years,” she said. Her award citation said she’d adapted the group to help people experiencing family violence, and she told the Mail she’d been advocating to make the cottage an inclusive space. She ran a workshop on gender education to help parents navigate the current climate. “Two years ago we made a beautiful indigenous sensory garden for the families there,” she said. Ms Taylor’s award citation said: “Her dedication to her community is apparent in all of her work and has improved the lives of many, both directly and indirectly.” See page 21 for more from Survival Day.
Emma Taylor received a certificate of recognition.
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