Reconciliation Vic Newsletter Nov 2017

November Reconciliation News
Petyan – season of wildflowers (early spring) 

Reconciliation Victoria were deeply disappointed to hear the government’s dismissive response to the Final Report of the Referendum Council; where there was overwhelming support through the process recommending to amend the Constitution to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament and for a statement of recognition that unifies Australians on just and respectful relationships.

“In valuing any peoples we must listen to their views and calls to action to make change for the better.” Reconciliation Victoria Co-Chair Belinda Duarte said. “By ignoring the extensive knowledge shared historically and again today, continuing to reject recommendations from a process in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participated and advocated, what does that say to Australia’s First Peoples? In fact what does it say about Australia to the rest of the world?”

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take their rightful place in our society and participate equally and equitably, their voice must lead and direct the discussion. Lasting change occurs with this and it is undeniably evidenced in this way.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair Rod Little ‘stressed that people need to take a step back and consider that “no people need permission from government” to bring about change. Those who support change “need to take ownership of this issue and work together”(1). We hope the reconciliation movement is galvanized into stronger action, led by the wishes of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are key to progressing this work and it was a pleasure at our recent AGM and forum on 28th October to be immersed in that. Thank you to those committed to the work of reconciliation and for the insights, wisdom and generosity of our First Nations people for presenting.

In an effort to ensure greater awareness of the experiences of young Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria please read the 2017 Koorie Youth Summit Report. The report is intended to help government and communities to take action for change. We encourage all supporters to share this report with your local government, given young people make up a very high percentage of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community.

And finally, to mark a significant occasion a festival will be held that will return the remains of Mungo Man to his rightful place on country this month – you can be part of the celebrations by donating to the campaign and/or attending. This will be one for the history books!

~ The RecVic team

(1) Media Release- ‘Real Reform-The Question of Leadership for PM’ National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples 26th October 2017

Reconciliation Victoria AGM &
Victorian Reconciliation Network Forum

Our AGM and Victorian Reconciliation Network Forum were held on Saturday 28th October 2017 with over 50 reconciliation members/supporters in attendance, representing 15 Local Reconciliation Groups from across Victoria.

After a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Ron Jones,  Reconciliation Victoria and ANTaR Victoria’s AGMs were held followed by the forum ‘Lessons in Walking Together: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people working towards true and sustainable reconciliation’.

Aboriginal Council members from Reconciliation Victoria Council shared their perspectives on reconciliation and challenged attendees to make new commitments towards reconciliation based on ideas shared at the forum.

Guest speaker Jacob Boehme, Creative Director of Yirramboi First Nations Art Festival then reflected on his personal experiences in organising Yirramboi, an Aboriginal led festival which invited Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and performers, and First Nations artists from around the world to share their culture and knowledge.

We thank everyone for their valuable contributions on the day, particularly guest speakers Jacob Boehme, Vicki Clark, Melissa Brickell, Sue D’Amico, Local Reconciliation Group representatives, Co-Chairs & MCs Michelle Isles and Belinda Duarte and the fabulous RecVic and ANTaR Victoria volunteers for sharing their time to create a meaningful forum!

More information here.

Constitutional Reform Update

The Prime Minister and his cabinet have officially rejected recommendations from the Referendum Council’s Final Report to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations Voice to Parliament and enact a Declaration of Recognition that articulates a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.

There has been a range of media coverage of the government’s response, with just a few examples below. We encourage to you read, share and keep this important discussion going.

‘Government rejects proposal for Indigenous voice to Parliament’

Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet has confirmed it has turned its back to its own Referendum Council’s proposal to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.

Read the full NITV story here

‘Parliament has failed nation’

The head of the Northern Land Council, Joe Morrison, is demanding answers from the Prime Minister after the Federal Government decided against setting up an Indigenous advisory body – a key recommendation of the Referendum Council.

Read the full story from the ABC

‘Most Australians support Indigenous voice to parliament’

An online survey, conducted by OmniPoll in August for researchers at Griffith University and the University of New South Wales, found that 60.7% of respondents broadly supported a proposal to “change the constitution to set up a representative Indigenous body to advise the parliament on laws and policies affecting Indigenous people”.

Read the full story from The Guardian

‘No heart in Turnbull’s position’

Suzanne Thompson, the co-chair of a working group set up after the historic meeting of Aboriginal leaders at Uluru in May, said a series of strategy meetings had been held on how they would move forward.

“I think the majority of Australians want to see some change. We’re a patient people. We’re very patient. How long have we been waiting for this? We’re definitely not beaten by this. If anything, it’s just raising the bar.”

Read the full story from NIT

‘Real reform – the question
of leadership for PM’

National Congress Co-Chair Jackie Huggins also made it clear that, “people are disappointed that the Prime Minister and Cabinet has not heard the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.”

Read the full media release from National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples here

‘Rejection of voice to parliament
a missed opportunity’

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the Prime Minister’s decision was a frustrating blow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, who participated in the government-initiated Referendum Council process in good faith.

Read the full media release from Reconciliation Australia here

Victorian Treaty Update

This month, the Aboriginal Community Assembly will come together to shape the design and structure of the Aboriginal Representative Body. Members of the Aboriginal Community Assembly are expected to be announced shortly by the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group.

On the 27th October, Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, announced that the Victorian Government will establish a new public office, the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission and appoint a Commissioner in early 2018. The Commission will operationalise the outcomes of the Aboriginal Community Assembly and establish the Aboriginal Representative Body. The Commissioner will report directly to the Governor in Council – a body comprised of the Governor General and members of the Executive Council (ie Premier and sworn in Ministers).

An open recruitment process for the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner is now open and will close on 7 November 2017. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are eligible to apply. For more information on the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner, how to apply and the treaty process, visit the Aboriginal Victoria Treaty website.


Recognise and Revive Indigenous Languages

The NSW Parliament introduced the nation’s first laws to recognise and revive Indigenous languages. An estimated 35 languages are spoken across NSW, with dozens of different dialects.

Hundreds gathered outside NSW Parliament in Sydney to usher in an historic piece of legislation — The Aboriginal Languages Bill.

As part of the new legislation, the State Government said it would appoint an independent panel of Aboriginal language experts and establish a new languages centre.

Dr Ray Kelly from the University of Newcastle, who sung and spoke his Dunghutti language in the Parliament, said it was an emotional day.

“The Bill’s genesis is 30 years, 40 years old, so people have been talking about the rights for language and the protection of Aboriginal languages. This is for all of those older people who are no longer walking the path with us.”

Full story

Hobart City Council gets behind campaign

The Hobart City Council is formally joining the push to change the date of Australia Day and will back aldermen who want to take part in the annual Invasion Day march.

At its full meeting on Monday 23rd October night, a four-point motion was passed seven votes to two. The council is calling on other local governments to lobby the Federal Government to debate moving Australia Day from 26 January.

Greens alderman Bill Harvey said the council also committed to the ‘non-politicisation and continuation of all citizenship ceremonies’ on 26 January. “We wouldn’t like to see the citizenship ceremonies, which we all believe are really important, taken away from us like it has occurred in a couple of other mainland councils. We don’t want to lose that, it is just too valuable but we also want to show our strong support for the Indigenous community of Tasmania and Australia that we support changing the date”, Bill Harvey said.

As part of the motion, council will provide support for the annual Invasion Day march, organised by the Indigenous community, and back any aldermen who want to attend

Full ABC News report

Proposal to rename Batman

In the spirit of reconciliation, Darebin Council has made a joint submission to the Australian Electoral Commission to rename the Federal Electoral Division of Batman.

The submission has been made on behalf of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Corporation, together with the City of Yarra and City of Darebin.

The joint submission proposes that the electorate of Batman be renamed Simon Wonga. Simon Wonga was an inspiring and visionary Indigenous leader and Ngurungaeta (‘head-man’) of the Wurundjeri people in the early to mid-1800s at a time when their future was uncertain. The Mayor, Cr Kim Le Cerf, said Darebin Council has a long standing commitment to reconciliation and renaming the electorate of Batman is part of this journey.

Of the 37 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, nine are named in Aboriginal languages: Ballarat, Corangamite, Corio, Indi, Jaga Jaga, Kooyong, Mallee, Maribyrnong, and Wannon.

Full media release from City of Darebin

Koorie Youth Summit
2017 Report

The Koorie Youth Summit was held on 14-15 June.
This report captures the voices of the delegates. By drawing together young people’s stories and ideas, this report is an important record to help communities and government understand Aboriginal young people’s experiences and take action for change.View the full report here.


Curatorial conversations: Behind the scenes and stories on acquiring artefacts

Presented by Museums Victoria Humanities Department Curators

Wednesday 8 November

In this presentation Humanities curators will discuss how material comes to their attention and how it becomes part of the museum’s collections. They reveal some of the rich and remarkable stories behind recent acquisitions.

1pm – 2pm. Museum Theatre, Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson Street, Carlton. Free event.
Information and booking  Phone 03 8341 7378 or Email

Join Wurrundjeri elders for a celebration of Indigenous cultural heritage along the banks of the Merri Creek.

Murnong Gathering 2017

Saturday 11 November
11am – 3pm. Begin in the quarry across the footbridge in Dechene Reserve, opposite Connnolly Avenue, Coburg. Google map
Information and booking
Ellen van Neerven
and Kat Clarke
in Conversation with
Paola Balla 
Ellen van Neerven belongs to the Mununjali people of South East Queensland. She is the author of the award-winning short-story collection Heat and Light and the poetry collection Comfort Food. Kat Clarke is a proud Wotjobaluk woman of the Wimmera region. She is a writer, cultural consultant and performance poet living in Sunshine. Ellen and Kat will be in conversation with Paola Balla of Moondani Balluk Academic Unit, Victoria University.
Sunday 12 November
2pm, Sunshine Library, 301 Hampshire Road, Sunshine
Book here
The Page + The Stage with Maurial Spearim

Are you an aspiring writer? Could you see yourself performing on stage one day? Come and meet other young creatives at this workshop facilitated by actor and playwright, Maurial Spearim. For young people aged 15-25 years.

Friday 10 November
6.30pm, St Albans Community Centre, Meeting Room 1
Princess Street, St Albans
Book here

Sunday 19 November

Opening 7pm
The Croxton Bandroom
607 High Street, Thornbury

Reserve tickets

Aboriginal feminism: Here I Am + Q&A with director Beck Cole

An homage to the original Australian matriarchs, the Indigenous women of the First Nations. Here I Am (2011) director Beck Cole and actress Pauline Whyman will be present for post-film Q&A, moderated by Nayuka Gorrie.

The film explores different kinds of Aboriginal matriarchies, those inherent and acquired, as Karen (Shai Pittman) is released from prison, and learns that freedom is hard to find when hearts are still broken.

Wednesday 22 November 6 – 8.20pm
Tickets and more information here

MMusic—Melbourne Drone Orchestra: Yidaki

Melbourne’s loudest collective return for a unique collaboration with one of the world’s earliest instruments. Modern experimentation comes full circle and meets ancient tradition, with an ensemble of 18 guitars blending drones with the inimitable and haunting sound of the yidaki (didgeridoo). The Melbourne Drone Orchestra will perform as the setting sun turns day into the night’s dreaming at the newly built MPavilion.

This state-of-the-art amphitheatre will allow audience members to be immersed within a corona of sound ablaze with frequencies, where feedback, overtones and distortion combine for a unique sensory and cross-cultural experience.

Co-presented with The Melbourne Drone Orchestra in conjunction with Songlines and MPavilion.

Saturday 25 November 7-9.00pm. Free event – all ages.
MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.
More info

As part of Mapping Melbourne, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Multi-Cultural Arts Victoria presents Serpent Women Dreaming.
The Serpent Dreaming Women project aims to shift perceptions and create awareness through performance. This site-specific piece will draw links between Indian, Indian diasporic, and Australian Indigenous women, as they explore their complex and long relationships with each other’s cultures and Mother Earth, simultaneously political and poetic, contemporary and timeless.

Wednesday 6 December
6 – 8pm, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

This is a free event.  Get your tickets here.
More information

Known for his deeply resonant voice and musical sensitivity, Melbourne-based via Arnhem Land, singer-songwriter and ARIA Award nominee Gawurra makes his Melbourne Recital Centre debut.

Stanley Gawurra Gaykamangu is a future Elder in his island community, who draws on traditional Gupapungu language songs in creating his contemporary music. Already inspiring comparisons with renowned musician Dr G Yunupingu, Gawurra’s culture, songlines, personal journey and musical understanding are embedded deep within his soulful voice and moving songwriting, shining through in every performance.

Thursday 7 December
7.30pm, The Recital Centre, 31 Sturt Street, Southbank

More information
Book tickets

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Victoria.

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