Port Stephens Celebrates Australia Day at The Official Australia Day Event at Medowie Social with Australia Day Ambassador Di Ball

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer addressing the attendees of the Port Stephens Official Australia Day celebrations 2021. Photo by Marian Sampson.


FOR some Australia Day is contentious; for many it is a day to celebrate.

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A day when we come together from all walks of life and simply celebrate our lives under the great southern sun.

This year there were no parades, no live entertainment and even the Australian National Anthem was something that we listened to rather than sang, yet still Australians in Port Stephens celebrated.

At the Port Stephens Australia Day ceremony our Australia Day Ambassador Di Ball delivered a speech which honoured her people and made her an example to us all.

Di Ball is Wahroonga Aboriginal Corporation Executive Director, Order of Australia Medal recipient and the CEO of Karuah Aboriginal Land Council.

Di Ball is a proud Aboriginal woman, the first one to graduate Year 12 in her country of Gumbangerri (Armidale).

Di moved to Port Stephens in the mid 1990’s where she co-founded the Wahroonga Aboriginal Corporation in 1994 in response to local need.

At the Australia Day function held by Port Stephens Council Di Ball spoke of reconciliation, she broke it down to our daily lives and offered powerful insight into the needs of her community.

Di Ball said, “That developing really good relationships, which I call unified with government agency and with community, that is reconciliation.

“How we ventured out with Rotary, the programs we got out there were for the community, in breaking down the barriers we became united, especially with our driver training program, the activities that we did in the schools, it was about bringing our kids together whether they were Indigenous or non Indigenous, it didn’t matter – it was about reconciliation,” she said.

Di Ball also stated how honoured she felt to be the Port Stephens Australia Day Ambassador for 2021.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer paid tribute to Di Ball for her honour of receiving the OAM last year and said that her services to the Port Stephens community are “Second to none, Di is an incredible advocate for Aboriginal people in Port Stephens.”

The Mayor said, “To have her (Di Ball) here and Uncle Neville here shows that Australia Day here in Port Stephens is truly inclusive and that people are here to work together, and Australia Day here in Port Stephens is a day that we come together to celebrate,” he said.

“We have a very special relationship with the Worimi People here in Port Stephens.”

He went on to say, ”It’s wonderful to have the first function here at Medowie Social and it is opening up over the next couple of weeks, it’s great to have a venue like this where we can come together in a COVID Safe way is fantastic.

“Our volunteer groups do a fantastic job each year and we acknowledge the work they have done in their Australia Day events and obviously we can’t hold those this year, but we are still able to celebrate the successes of our citizens whether these are sporting achievements, cultural achievements, environmental achievements, or services to Port Stephens today,” said the Mayor.




Uncle Neville delivering the Welcome to Country at the Port Stephens Official Australia Day celebrations 2021. Photo by Marian Sampson.

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