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Save Civic Hall learns from Port Fairy

The story of a community successfully fighting to save something it regards as special is not unique.

A public meeting at Ballarat Library at 3pm Sunday 10 November will hear how the community of Crossley, near Port Fairy, combined forces to save St Brigid’s Church.

The community was outraged when the church hierarchy decided to sell its church and hall. The battle for St Brigid’s went all the way to Rome, with support from human rights lawyer Frank Brennan and indigenous elders Archie Roach and the late Ruby Hunter.

Conservation officer and writer, Regina Lane, will speak on Sunday about what inspired her local community to take action and what the Friends of St Brigid’s learned along their journey.

Lane is now publishing a book about the church, which was built and paid by children of the Irish famine. She said, “It was to uphold their legacy that I decided to stand up alongside my community and fight to protect it.”

This meeting is also an opportunity for supporters of retention of the Ballarat Civic Hall to hear an update from the new overarching community body, Save Civic Hall.

A number of working groups have been formed in the areas of activation of the Civic Hall, adaptive reuse and other alternatives, tourism, heritage, governance, communications /media, fundraising, indigenous and youth involvement.

On Sunday coordinators from each of these groups and the main committee will report back on what is planned and how the community can be further involved.

New Group will Save Civic Hall

Around 200 people spilled out of the Ballarat Library meeting room on Sunday, forming a group to save the Civic Hall from demolition as currently proposed by the City of Ballarat.

Participants agreed on the beginnings of an alternative vision for Ballarat Civic Hall, which was unanimously decided should remain primarily for the use and benefit of the community.

The meeting was chaired by Jon Stanger. Speakers included historians, planners, academics, professionals and writers. Anne Beggs-Sunter talked about the heritage value of the Civic Hall and the long history of Council’s various decisions, commissioned plans and reports on the Civic Hall.

Michael Wilson, President of the Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc informed the meeting that BRRA is willing to auspice the new group. Mr Wilson outlined the major concerns of BRRA, including the failure of Council to listen to the community.

Ailsa Brackley du Bois reported on a recent forum Heritage Conservation as Environmental Conservation sponsored by University of Melbourne & the Heritage Council of Victoria.

“The most contemporary, cutting edge and common sense approach is to make the most of the existing building stock we already have,” said Ms Brackley du Bois. “Environmentally and economically this is the smartest thing to do.”

Ms Brackley du Bois said adaptive re-use was the popular approach around the world and the key message was to find “new tricks with old bricks”.

Former senior officer at Ballarat City Council Ron Egeberg encouraged people to sign the petition at and urged more people to become involved.

The group was reminded by Jonathan Halls that Council’s actions over the Civic Hall are not compatible with democratic or local government principles.

At the 2 ½ hour meeting many sub-groups were formed to discuss and plan further action in the areas of activation of the Civic Hall, adaptive reuse and alternatives, tourism, governance, communications /media, fundraising, indigenous and youth involvement.

A committee was formed to coordinate ongoing activities, including leaders of the various sub-groups. The committee will meet again this week and all residents are encouraged to get involved by signing the petition at

Civic Hall supporters unite for public meeting and campaign

Ballarat residents opposed to the wasteful demolition of Civic Hall have united to call a public meeting and begin a campaign to save and reuse Civic Hall.

The public meeting will be held this Sunday 20 October 2pm – 4pm at the Ballarat Library Meeting Room.

“Council’s proposal to demolish Civic Hall is a monumental waste of ratepayers money and threatens not just a viable and significant community building, but our valuable public space,” said Ron Egeberg, a member of the newly united group.

“It was Council’s neglect, mismanagement and overpricing that led to a reduction in use of our Civic Hall and we won’t stand by while further poor decisions waste more money.”

“Civic Hall is a socially and culturally significant building, built to last for decades to come. It can and should be retained and reused, bringing the precinct to life and saving millions of ratepayers dollars.”

“Council has professional polling that shows the majority of Ballarat residents oppose demolition and 72 percent support retaining and reusing our Civic Hall for community benefit. They also have a preliminary business case for adaptive reuse that shows we can earn a good return on ratepayer investment in restoring and upgrading what is a sound and useable building.”

“In contrast, Council has presented no business case, feasibility study or supporting evidence to support demolition and there is no sign of broad support for this waste of money, energy and community assets.”

“The fact that the state government has already declared the land to be in excess of their requirements should be pause for thought alone. This is likely to mean the site will be sold to the highest bidder rather than retained for community use and ratepayers will see no return on the sale of state government land.”

The Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association will auspice the new community group, allowing them to raise funds if required.

“The Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association see what a waste of ratepayers money Council’s misguided demolition proposal would be and we’re grateful for their support.”

“Horsham Rural City Council has estimated they’ve spent $1.5-2 million in their failed attempt to demolish Horsham Town Hall, a building of a similar era and local significance to our Civic Hall. Ballarat Council has wasted enough time and money, it’s time they worked with the community and started reinvigorating Civic Hall and avoid wasting everyones time and money on a long and drawn-out battle.”

“We’re confident Civic Hall will be retained, it’s up to Council how much time, energy and money is wasted in the meantime,” concluded Ron Egeberg.

A petition at has already garnered close to 1000 supporters.

The public meeting is open to all residents who support retaining and activating Civic Hall and the surrounding site and will run from 2pm-4pm at the Ballarat Library Meeting Room this Sunday 20 October.