Reconciliation Victoria Newsletter February 2019

Check out the latest gigs, cultural events and reconciliation news from around Victoria

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this eNews may include images of persons who are deceased.
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Reconciliation News
February 2019

‘Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land’. A mark in history over the long weekend as tens of thousands across the nation marched in rallies in solidarity with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, calling for changes to the way our nation marks Australia Day. These rallies and media coverage clearly demonstrate a surge in awareness in the broader community about the true history of this country, the pain the day causes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the need for greater change in the way historical injustices are addressed (unfinished business).

Reconciliation Victoria will continue to support a continuing national conversation about shifting our national day from January 26. Though we have a long way to go, it is encouraging to witness over this weekend that more non-Aboriginal people are promoting understanding, respect and reconciliation by listening to Aboriginal voices and supporting Aboriginal-led events across Victoria.

Reconciliation Victoria acknowledges another powerful moment of healing in our nation’s history that will never be forgotten, February 13, marking the 11th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. On this Day in 2008, Prime Minister Rudd issued a formal Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities as children, a result of cruel Australian government policies. Eleven years on and still the number of Indigenous children being taken away from their families remains extremely high. There is much justice and healing yet to be done.

To commemorate this historic Apology, events will take place around Victoria. For further information read below and follow us on Facebook.
~ The RecVic Team


Nominations for 2019 HART Awards open

18 February

The HART Awards recognise Victorian initiatives that contribute to local reconciliation outcomes.

If your council or community organisation (big or small) is doing great things in the reconciliation space, make sure you nominate – or if you know of an organisation doing great work – and encourage them to consider nominating.

Visit our website for more information.

Save the Date!

This year’s metropolitan Statewide Reconciliation Forum will be on Saturday 6 April, at the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Ringwood East. All welcome.

More details to follow.

Over 250 Indigenous Australian language groups covered the continent at the time of European settlement in 1788. Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass away.

Indigenous languages matter for social, economic and political development, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in our societies.

The United Nations has declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages in order to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalise and promote them.

Check out this website dedicated to the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages.  For more information about First Peoples languages in Australia visit the AIATSIS website

Language loss is a serious risk to Australia’s cultural inheritance

This year is an opportunity for Australians to take action and improve the preservation, promotion and learning of First Nations languages across Australia. As a nation we can work towards an Australia where First Languages are respected nationally, and spoken by community members across our country.

Commonground has developed a number of resources that you can use to become more familiar with the stories of Languages, and the never-ending fight to preserve and protect First Languages.

Embracing and better understanding language is one way we can help maintain First Languages and support First Nations people.

Above: Bill Harney, the last fully initiated Wardaman Elder, and one of the last speakers of the Wardaman language.

To celebrate the year of Indigenous Languages, Deadly Story is releasing a series of deadly resources!
Go to the Deadly Story website and subscribe to their newsletter to get the latest updates.

Dja Dja Wurrung repatriation is a healing process

Ashes turn to ashes, and dust turns to dust.

But few of us would see the remains of a person as simple specks of carbon. The vestiges of an earthly body hold a deep symbolic power. So imagine knowing your ancestors had been dug up, taken from their country, and were being kept in boxes on museum shelves?

For many Dja Dja Wurrung people that’s the case. Many early European settlers dug up grave goods and human remains under the guise of scientific curiosity.

Pictured: Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Rodney Carter.

Read the article from the Bendigo Advertiser

Rediscovered rock art reveals an ancient monster

During the 1800s a beast unknown to science haunted the waterways of southern Australia. Like the saltwater crocodile of the north, the creature was said to ambush and devour its victims.

A few years before he became the first lieutenant-governor of Victoria in 1851, Charles La Trobe wrote of being “long convinced” of the bunyip’s existence, and lamented he didn’t have to time to hunt for proof. None ever emerged. That is, nothing credible. The beast, it seemed, was apocryphal.

But now the bunyip (four in fact) has been found – or ancient rock drawings of it at least – in a shallow cave atop a cliff in Gariwerd’s Mt Difficult Range.

Above: Jake Goodes is now part of efforts to document a new wave of rediscovered rock art at Gariwerd (The Grampians).

Left: Park rangers and archaeologists are using new technology to reveal traces of ochre which may be tens of thousands of years old.
Right: The rock art of Gariwerd is rich in symbols, some of which are found nowhere else and much of which has meanings yet to be relearned.
Read the full story from The Age

2019 NAIDOC Week theme announced

NAIDOC Week: 7-14 July

The Indigenous voice of this country is over 65,000 plus years old. They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia. They are precious to our nation.

It’s that Indigenous voice that include know-how, practices, skills and innovations – found in a wide variety of contexts, such as agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological and medicinal fields, as well as biodiversity-related knowledge. They are words connecting us to country, an understanding of country and of a people who are the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

And with 2019 being celebrated as the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Language, it’s time for our knowledge to be heard through our voice.

Voice. Treaty. Truth. were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.

Find out more

NAIDOC Week Grants now open!

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet invites schools, community groups, organisations and other eligible applicants to apply for a contribution to your 2019 NAIDOC event.

The NAIDOC Grant Funding round aims to support activities being held during NAIDOC Week 2019 that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, achievements and continuing contributions to our country and society.

For more information visit the website

Check out the NAIDOC website where you can subscribe to the NAIDOC mailing list, for all the latest news.

It’s despair, not depression, that’s responsible for Indigenous suicide

Last year, 165 Indigenous Australians died as a result of suicide. Despite continued efforts to improve suicide prevention programs, there has been no no appreciable reduction in the suicide rate in ten years.

While suicide is the 14th leading cause of death for non-Indigenous Australians, it is ranked 5th for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We often equate suicide with mental illness, but as a recent Senate inquiry report into rural mental health found:

“… in too many cases, the causes of suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is not mental illness, but despair caused by the history of dispossession combined with the social and economic conditions in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live.”

This statement should not be a surprise, but it is all too easily forgotten. A diagnosis of mental illness is only one of a number of risk factors for suicide.

Read the full article from The Conversation

Share Our Pride

Share Our Pride website gives you a glimpse of how life looks from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective.

We ask questions, such as:

Share our Pride is designed to take you on an awareness-raising journey, answering more than the questions above.

Check out the Share Our Pride website


On the first weekend of February we will be holding celebrations for the 80th Anniversary of The Cummeragunja Walk Off. This event will be taking place on the Cummeragunja Reserve. The most significant day of the celebrations will be on Monday which is the Anniversary date of the Walk Off.

Program includes workshops, speakers, an exhibition and music by Debra Cheetham, Benny Walker, Stiff Gins, Shane Howard and more.

More information and the three-day program

Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Festival

A music-filled celebration of Indigenous culture. 

Includes Mojo Juju, The Merindas, Squid NebulaKalyani Mumtaz, Brett Lee, Robert Champion, Kee’ahn and much much more.

Features the inaugural Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Summer Concert to take place at St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall on  the Friday night, remembering an important figure in the clan’s history, Louisa Briggs.

Friday February 1 and Saturday February 2
Events at St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall and O’Donnell Gardens.

Head to the festival website for more information

Fairfield in Feb

Yarra City Council is pleased to announce Fairfield in Feb is back at the iconic Fairfield Amphitheatre!

Sunday 3 February
3.30 – 8pm

Welcome To Country by the Wurundjeri Council and Djirri Djirri dancers followed by music from The Merindas, Bumpy, Aaron B.

View the full program

Blak Writing Skillshare:
Critical Non-Fiction

Friday 8 February
11am – 1pm

Join a workshop and skillsharing event for First Nations critical writers (published and unpublished, emerging and established) facilitated by MPavilion’s Writer in Residence, Maddee Clark.

This is the first of what will become a series of writing skillshares run by the Koorie Heritage Trust for Blak writers. The skillshare will create a space for an open discussion of critical non-fiction, including essay writing, commentary, political writing, personal writing, op-eds, analysis, and arts and culture writing.

Join the conversation or simply turn up to hear new vital ideas.

More information

Bruce reveals the hidden histories of how Aboriginal people across Australia used domesticated plants and engaged in complex harvesting and irrigating. He explores how this can be applied today.

Bruce will be joined by Peter Andrews in this Festival forum.

Sunday 10 February  3 – 4.30pm
The Dome, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne. Free event.More information
The National Sustainable Living Festival program
invite you to the
Wednesday 13 February
10 – 11.30amYou are invited to a morning tea organised by Link-Up Victoria in partnership with Connecting Home and the City of Darebin to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations by the Australian Government.

Everyone is welcome to join this important commemoration of what was a historical day for all of Australia.

Darebin Council Shire Hall, 286 Gower Sreet, Preston

RSVP or queries contact Bev Murray at Link-Up Victoria, VACCA
(03) 7002 3700 • Freecall: 1800 687 662  Email

Malthouse Theatre Civil Rights Summer Series

Malthouse Theatre presents a twilight Summer Series of events featuring activists, spoken word artists, musical disrupters, dance and drum movement shakers, that honour the untold stories and unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

For over one month The Coopers Malthouse courtyard will transform into a hub of engaged discussions, powerful poetry, energetic movements, and politically and socially charged music.

Program includes Uncle Jack Charles, Jason Tamiru, Gary Foley, Kim Kruger, and more.

Until Friday 1 March
Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Sreet, Southbank
All sessions are free.



Directed by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page, Bennelong serves as an archetype of first contact and a timeless voice in the ongoing debate of the impacts of colonisation.

2019 Regional Australia Tour

After a triumphant national tour in 2017, a return sellout season at Adelaide Festival and six Helpmann Award wins, Bangarra takes Bennelong to regional Australia.

Bendigo 15 -16 February
Geelong 21 – 23 February
Warragul 2 March

Book here

Holden Street Neighbourhood House and Yarra Libraries warmly invite you to their annual

Sustainability Fair and Movie in the Park

Saturday 23 February
from 3pm

The afternoon will begin with entertainment, activities and workshops focusing on sustainability and the environment.

8.30 – 10.30pm  The Song Keepers.
This Australian movie tells the inspiring story of an Aboriginal Women’s Choir who travel to Germany to perform German hymns in their traditional language.

This is a free entry event for all ages as part of the National Sustainable Living Festival 2019.

More information

A Night with Uncle Jack

Friday 15 March
Saturday 16 March

7 – 10pm
The Melba Spiegeltent
35 Johnston Street Collingwood

Book here

Spend a night with national treasure, award-winning actor, Aboriginal elder and activist Uncle Jack Charles, annotating his colourful life and brilliant career in words and music. Hosted by respected broadcaster Namila Benson plus special guests. Uncle Jack Charles is an actor, musician, potter and gifted performer, but in his 75 years he has also been homeless, a heroin addict, a thief and a regular in Victoria’s prisons.
presents the

Aboriginal Heritage Walk

Embark on an exploratory walk through important areas of the Gardens as your guide discusses the local First Peoples’ connection to plants and their traditional uses for food, medicine, tools and ceremonies.

This 90-minute guided tour operates six days a week – not on Saturdays – departing at 11am and concludes at 12.30pm.

$35 Adult • $29 Concession • $12 Child (8 to 17 years)

More information

Totally Trad

A fun 45-minute group workout with a cultural twist!
Every Thursday, starting 7 February.

Totally Trad is the perfect place to kick start your new routine for 2019. Totally Trad sessions are based on some favourite Traditional Aboriginal Games.

So come and get active while celebrating Aboriginal Culture and History. Registration is not required for any of the free sessions.

All you have to do is turn up!
Thursdays 9.30am, All Nations Park, Separation Street, Northcote

Find out more

Saturday 23 March
10am – 10pm
Balnarring Beach, Robertsons Park and camping reserve.A Family Festival with great activities for the whole family.
•  Live entertainment.
•  Food and market stalls.
•  Storytelling and First People activities
•  Kids art and craft section
•  Bush camping

Check it out on Facebook

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Kulin Nation Dry Season

Key Dates

31 January 1938: William Cooper leads first deputation to a Prime Minister seeking rights for Aboriginal people.

3 February 1939: 200-300 Aboriginal families walk off Cummeragunja Mission, protesting their lack of rights.

5 February 1972: Aboriginal Tent Embassy petition presented to Federal Parliament

13 February 2008: National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

18 February 2019: Nominations open for the 2019 HART Awards.

6 April 2019: Statewide Reconciliation Forum, Mullum Mullum Gathering Place, Ringwood East.


Koorie Art Show 2018

Now in its sixth year, the Koorie Heritage Trust’s annual Koorie Art Show showcases the diverse talent of Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in one inclusive space. In our biggest year yet, we are exhibiting over 190 works from over 100 artists.

For more information check out the KHT website

Read “Exploring History, Identity and Story at the Koori Art Show” by Jack Banister (The Citizen, December, 2018)

Exhibition runs until Sunday 24 February.

The Alliance Française is delighted to present its first exhibition for 2019, in collaboration with the Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Festival

Tongue of Land

An exhibition by Indigenous students from the University of Melbourne as part of the
Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Festival.
This exhibition is curated with the intention of drawing attention to the importance of Indigenous languages and the critical loss of these languages in Australia and globally.

Thursday 31 January – Thursday 21 February

Alliance Française Eildon Gallery, 51 Grey Street,
St Kilda

Information and RSVP

Confined 10 Exhibition

The Torch is recognising 10 years of exhibiting artworks by Indigenous artists currently in or recently released from prisons in Victoria.

Confined is the key annual event of The Torch’s Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community program and a central event of the Yalukut Weelam Ngargee, Melbourne’s longest running Indigenous arts and cultural festival.

Now in its 10th year, the Confined exhibition provides Indigenous offenders and ex-offenders with an opportunity to connect with the community and to promote the practice of culture in rehabilitation. It also serves to highlight the issue of over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

Exhibition runs until Wednesday 27 February
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri 8.30am – 5pm. Thur 8.30am – 7pm. Saturday 12 noon – 4pm.
Carlisle Street Arts Space, 99A Carlisle Street, St Kilda
Find out more

Image: Journey of the Kookaburra, Sam, Wirangu peoples, 2018

Black Mist Burnt Country is an exhibition project developed by Burrinja Cultural Centre which commemorates the British atomic test series in Australia through artworks by Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists across the mediums of painting, print-making, sculpture, installation, photography and new media.

Since its launch in Sydney in September 2016 to mark the 60th anniversary of the first British atomic test at Maralinga, the exhibition has toured nine public galleries and museums in four states and territories, most recently at National Museum in Canberra.

The exhibition will be on display at Burrinja and will be accompanied by a public program including tours, film screenings and a writers panel talk. 

Exhibition runs until Sunday 10 February.

Burrinja Cultural Centre,
351 Glenfern Road, UpweyVisit the exhibition website

Information about Burrinja Cultural Centre

Toongkateeyt (Tomorrow)

Toongkateeyt (Tomorrow) by Hayley Millar-Baker – presented by The City of Yarra – sees the mashing of Countries through inter-generational experiences to create imagined landscapes. Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar-Baker is influenced by her Koorie bloodlines.

Image: Even if the race is fated to disappear 3 (Peeneeyt Meerreng/ Before, Now, Tomorrow)’ 2017 (detail), Inkjet on cotton rag, 150 x 80 cm. Courtesy the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne.

Until Sunday 3 February
Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library
182 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy

More information from the City of Yarra

Blak Dot Gallery

is proud to present the first of its celebrations for this year’s 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

laka-wan ngeerang woorroong

A family exhibition that ‘speaks’ our ‘Mother Tongue’. Through this we will learn, retain and create future use of our language.

The two families who are sharing their stories, the Bundle Mob of the Yuin and the Gunditjmara Couzens, are connected through kinship and blood. Walking in the footsteps of their Ancestors, continuing creative cultural expression across both contemporary and traditional media.

Friday 1 – Sunday 24 February
Open Thursday to Sunday 10am – 4pm
Blak Dot Gallery
33 Saxon Street, Brunswick

More information

presents an exhibition by
Goompi Ugerabah

Birin Gowrayma (Saltwater Story)

Join us in celebrating the opening of Goompi Ugerabah’s first ever Melbourne solo show at Studio Gallery Melbourne on Friday 8 February. Light refreshments from 6.30pm. Bundjalung Kunjiel Dance Troupe will perform at 7.30pm.

14 Dissik Street, Cheltenham
Friday 8 February – Tuesday 5 March

More information

Silent Witness:
A window to the past

With a photography career spanning decades, Jim Berg, a Gunditjmara Elder, turns his focus to Scar trees. These trees are a window to the past, bearing witness to the way of life and freedom for Victoria’s First Peoples.

Scar trees are a reminder of the past and are a link to all trees.

Find out more

Friday 8 February – Sunday 9 June
Open daily 10am – 5pm
Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 11 Nicholson Street, Melbourne.


An immersive and imagined exhibition celebrating the Bunyip

Curated and developed by Lisa Waup and Baluk Arts with south-east Melbourne Aboriginal communities.Opening celebration Thursday 7 February
6 – 7.30pm

Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery, 32 Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood

Until Friday 29 March

More information


Online Koori Curriculum Educators Yarning Circle

Tuesday 5 February
6.30 – 8pm
Online Event

Yarning Circle will be held on the first Tuesday of the month from February to November 2019.

This event will be held on Zoom. It is preferable that participants have a webcam.

Read more about this program

Indigenous astronomy

New classroom resources have been announced to revitalise the Australian curriculum and to help teachers include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems in the classroom.

The recently released resources are designed for Years 5 and 8, and will expose them to topics such as natural indicators of time, measuring spatial distances with their hands and lunar and solar eclipses.

More information about these resources

The Narragunnawali professional learning resource, Reconciliation in Education: Learning Unlearning Relearning,
encourages teachers and educators to reflect on the importance of education to reconciliation in relation to your own education experiences. Genuinely engaging in reconciliation involves personal and professional learning and reflection.This may become a journey of ‘unlearning‘ and ’relearning‘ – of challenging assumptions and recognising that what has been taught about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures in schools may have been inaccurate or incomplete.

Find out more


What Is Australia for?

What Is Australia for? asks the big questions to encourage a robust national discussion about a new Australian identity that reflects our national, regional and global roles.

In a powerful memoir, Frank Moorhouse confronts his own mortality when a routine trek through the bush at the back of Bourke takes a wrong turn; Cameron Muir argues for an urgent marriage between health and agriculture; David Hansen investigates the token Aboriginality of a Melbourne residential tower; and Nick Bryant takes the temperature of our cultural cringe.

Dennis Altman asks if Australians have lost the will to create a better society; Robyn Archer contends that sustainability and resilience must be at the heart of our national debate; Kim Mahood offers a lacerating account of white workers in remote Aboriginal communities; David Astle and Romy Ash deliver two outstanding pieces of short fiction.

Other contributors include: Peter Mares, Leah Kaminsky, Jim Davidson, Frances Guo, Bruce Pascoe, Maria Papas, Pat Hoffie, Charlie Ward, Michael Wesley and more.

Download the free eBook

White Fragility

Why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism? And what does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims that race is meaningless?

US-based writer, researcher and educator Robin DiAngelo has considered these questions deeply. Her first two books, Is Everyone Really Equal? and What Does it Mean to Be White? examined notions of equality and white racial literacy. Her third book, White Fragility, is a New York Times-bestseller.

At the Wheeler Centre, DiAngelo presents a talk on these topics. She is then joined by a panel, including Jack Latimore, Odette Kelada and Tim Lo Surdo, for a discussion and Q&A.

Listen to the podcast

Bloody Australia Day

“Australia can be better. It can respect Indigenous culture, respect the wishes of its Indigenous peoples, offer us Treaty and stop fighting us on Land Rights.” 

Claire Coleman, Author

Read the full article here from last Saturday’s publication

Focus on Treaty

The second phase of the Deadly Questions campaign, launched last September, puts a focus on the important role of Treaty in Victoria and what Treaty could mean for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians.

Explore and ask your Deadly Question today here and join the broader conversation with Aboriginal Victorians.

More information

Maggolee – here in this place

The Maggolee website, developed by Reconciliation Victoria, includes information on policy and programs, protocols and cultural awareness, Traditional Owner groups and local Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal languages, key local contacts, news and events.

It contains information about each of the 79 Victorian local government areas, and about actions councils can take across key function areas to build closer relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and to progress reconciliation.

Maggolee has also proven to be a useful resource for teachers, educators and the wider community.

Birrarung Wilam (River Walk)

The Koorie Heritage Trust’s Birrarung Wilam Walk takes you through Federation Square and down to the Birrarung Wilam (Common Ground) Aboriginal art installations, experiencing the Aboriginal history of the Birrarung Marr (beside the river of mists) and Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation.

Every Thursday and Friday from 1pm to 2pm
Bookings essential
More information

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