The third day of December this year marked the 158th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion, a day when people from many nations made their stand for democracy on Ballarat Hill. It was a struggle for better and equal opportunities. A number of events were held in Ballarat to mark the day on which we remember the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for democracy. I had the pleasure of attending the Museum of Australian Democracy at the Eureka Centre which stands on the very ground where the Eureka rebellion took place. Guests at the event were treated to two songs from south-western Victorian singer and songwriter Shane Howard, whose great-grandfather was arrested by troopers during the rebellion but later released without charge.
The museum, which is due to be completed in May 2013, will be a truly impressive facility providing information and education on one of Australia’s most important events in history. Funded by all three levels of government, including the former state Labor government and current federal Labor government, the centre is Australia’s newest cutting-edge museum curated in collaboration with some of the best Australian and international historians and museum experts. The centrepiece is of course the 158-year-old Eureka flag, which will be housed in a purpose-built gallery. The museum will have interactive exhibits, two education spaces and a theatrette. Bricks and mortar are important, but this museum is different; it is very contemporary, it has space for conversation and space for engagement and provides an opportunity for the public to explore the principles and delivery of democracy. However, the absence of members of the Baillieu government was disappointing and duly noted.