Statement from the Heart: Voice. Treaty. Truth.
Walking Together with First Nations People
One of the objectives of the Victorian Council of Churches is to encourage and enable the Member Churches in the light of the Gospel to be a prophetic voice to each other and the community “by acting in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People“.[VCC Constitution 5.1 (b) (iv)]
The referendum on October 14th will give all Australians the chance to come together and consider a change to our constitution to honour and celebrate the rights, history, and ongoing relationship First Peoples have with this land.
At the heart of the upcoming Voice to Parliament Referendum is the recognition of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the world’s oldest continuing culture, in the Australian Constitution. As Christians, we have a responsibility to listen to the voices of First Australians and to work towards a more just and equitable society. The Voice to Parliament Referendum provides us with a unique opportunity to come together as a community and draw upon our faith and moral grounding to make an informed decision. As a community let us keep the process in prayer.
We invite all Australians to join us, their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Brothers and Sisters in prayer.
We pray for a bright and just shared future for all who call Australia home.
We ask that Your grace of acceptance and compassion will guide us.
Let the Creator Spirit lead our journey with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of this land.
May we share Your Spirit more deeply; celebrate the gifts You have given us.
Help us appreciate true harmony and peace just as our Old People did;
Keep us strong, make us resilient and remember us in this time.
Now is an opportunity to change our Nation’s history for the better.
Walk with us as we write a new chapter together and may we be one in Your love. Amen.
[Source: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC)]
Referendum updates and seminars will be posted here and on the Events page on the VCC website.
Resources (print and online)
Presentations (video, webinars, audio)
Answering some key questions about The Voice to Parliament
What power does the Voice to Parliament have?
It is not a third chamber or an addition to the House of Representatives and Senate.
It cannot veto and does not have the capacity to say, ‘you can’t do that’.
It cannot make any laws or decisions that the Government is then obliged to implement.
It IS an advisory body that can advise Parliament and Government from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective.
It CAN only say to them, ‘here are our comments and our advice on this piece of legislation’ or ‘we think you need to think about this in a better way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ or that ‘there’s an alternative way’.
Why does it need to be enshrined in the Constitution?
Enshrining The Voice into the Constitution allows our people to look further than the three-year electoral cycle. We can begin to plan on processes that resolve those kinds of issues discussed in the Closing the Gap program, over a long period of time.
There are no quick fixes, The Voice will not provide a quick fix, but it will provide us the opportunity to look down a long view and begin to get past the constant changes in Governments which stop us from successfully dealing with any of those major issues.
In the news/NEW!
Referendum guide delivered to households
Most people will have received the Referendum guide from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Worth checking out the Guardian analysis/fact checking of the ‘no’ statement, and the ‘yes’ statement.
Rev Michael Dowling (UCA Minister, SA)
– debunking misleading soundbite #1 (common myths about the Voice): ‘But we don’t have any details‘ (Youtube link)
– debunking misleading soundbite #2 “This will divide us by race” (YouTube link) 20 mins
=> very clear and informative – recommended viewing.
Tim Costello the Voice to Parliament (Youtube, 10 mins)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Social Justice Statement 2023-2024, Listen Learn Love: A new engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand has produced a guide for purposely participating in the 2023 Referendum on ‘the Voice to Parliament. Download here.
Indigenous Voice to Parliament: A question of love and moral imagination an article by Max Jegathanon
Scars of rejection will run deep if the Indigenous voice to parliament referendum fails, says historian Henry Reynolds
STATEMENT FROM THE HEART AND REFERENDUM
The Statement from the Heart emerged from The First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017. It was the coming together of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to articulate the nature of reforms desired by First Nations, and advise parliament on a pathway toward a successful referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.
The Statement from the Heart called for two reforms:
- The establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution to empower First Peoples to have a greater say in policy and legislation which governs their affairs and, in so doing, improve their autonomy and prosperity.
- The establishment of a Makarrata Commission to;
- Supervise a process of agreement-making, or treaty, between governments and First Nations, and
- Provide a means for truth-telling about the history of Australia’s First Peoples.
Statement from the Heart website
RESPONSE FROM CHURCH LEADERS, NETWORKS, AGENCIES ETC
Compilation of statements by Faith Leaders endorsing the Statement from the Heart and the Voice.
Salvation Army statement on the Voice to Parliament.
Migrant and faith groups pledge support for the YES campaign
Migrant and faith groups have come together in Victoria to pledge their support for the Yes campaign in the upcoming Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum. Video on SBS here.
Pastor Doug Nicholls – and the Voice to Parliament
(published on Churches of Christ Vic/Tas website)
Rev Rex Rigby serves as the National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia and is the only Indigenous First Nations Head of a Church in the National Council of Churches of Australia. At the June meeting of the NCCA, Rev Rigby shared a pivotal message, ‘A vote in favour might see only a slight improvement in the situation for Indigenous Australians, but a vote against has the potential to be a step backwards and cause further struggles for Indigenous Australians.’
Australia’s major faith based charities unite in support of Voice to Parliament.
In a co-signed open letter to Federal Parliament, The Salvation Army, Anglicare Australia, Baptist CareAustralia, Catholic Social Services Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society and UnitingCare Australia urge the implementation of a Voice to Parliament in our Constitution which will give Indigenous communities a means to inform policy and legal decisions that impact their lives.
Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) Statement in support of the Voice to Parliament.
The Ethnic Communities Foundation Victoria supports the Voice. ECCV Statement on First Nations Voice referendum – Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
Joint Resolution of Multicultural Community Organisations in support of the First Nations Voice Referendum
In 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples asked Australians to walk with them towards a better future. Through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, they asked for constitutional recognition through a constitutionally guaranteed voice in their own affairs. As leaders of diverse multicultural community organisations, we endorse the Uluru Statement and its call for a First Nations voice guaranteed by the Constitution. This reform is modest, practical and fair. We call on our political representatives to lead this referendum in the spirit of bipartisan and broad cooperation. We commit our steadfast support, and urge all Australians to work together to ensure referendum success. Let us co-operate across differences of politics and diversities of culture and faith, to heal our country and unify the nation.
Many sports clubs and codes have issued statements of support – Rugby Australia statement (May 2023) on Twitter, NRL, Football Australia, the Australian Olympic Committee and Tennis Australia. The AFL has issued a statement: “While we encourage everyone to seek the information they need to form their own views on the referendum, the AFL proudly supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution through the Voice to Parliament”. The AFL support is in keeping with the support for the Voice to Parliament by individual clubs.
Thursday 21 September, 7-8.30pm ONLINE (free tix)
The Road to the Referendum
Description: Featuring an update on the final weeks of the Voice Referendum Yes campaign and how you can contribute, this session will feature an Acknowledgement of Country from Uncle Shane Charles, speakers Thomas Mayo, Danny Gilbert from Gilbert + Tobin and Jade Ritchie from the Yes23 campaign and plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions.
About Jade: Jade Ritchie – Yes23 Campaign spokesperson – is from the Bunda Clan of the Gooreng Gooreng Nation and grew up on her Grandmother’s country in Bundaberg, QLD. She’s lived on Larrakia Country for the past 10 years and is an advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Jade has extended that advocacy to be a spokesperson for the Yes Campaign in the lead up to Referendum 2023. Jade continues to passionately advocate for social justice and for the First Peoples of Australia to be recognised in the Constitution by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
Saturday 23 September 10.30am-12pmONLINE (free tix) Unpacking the Statement from the Heart
Description: ‘Voice, Treaty, Truth’ is only the start. Wiradjuri priest, writer and artist Glenn Loughrey has looked deeply at the Uluru Statement from the Heart and finds in it powerful potential for restorative justice in Australia – and more. In this session he will be in conversation with Emma Yates, a lawyer and mediator with a keen interest in restorative principles and practice.
About Glen: Glen Loughrey Glenn is a Wiradjuri man. He is a leader at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra and the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne’s Educator and Advocate for the Voice. He is the chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, the vicar of St Oswald’s in Glen Iris and artist in residence at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne. Glenn is the author of three books and is the author of Unpacking the Statement from the Heart A Personal Perspective from a Wiradjuri Man, a paper written under the banner of the Crawford School of Public Policy. The views expressed in this perspective belong to Glenn alone are the fruit of deep reflection. It is vital that we listen and appreciate the different perspectives of First Nations people, and understand the question confronting us as Australians.
About Emma: Emma Yates is a non-Indigenous Australian, a mediator with a keen interest in restorative justice, a recent Master of Peace and Conflict Studies graduate, and passionate about relational peacebuilding. Emma first heard from Uncle Glenn Loughrey during the Initiatives of Change ‘Turruk’ program in 2021. She was deeply challenged by his call to non-Indigenous Australians to first acknowledge and reconcile inside ourselves our own place in colonisation, before talking about (re)conciliation, and feels privileged to engage in this conversation with Uncle Glenn.
Two events on 24th September
St Dunstan’s Anglican Church, with Uncle Glenn Loughrey, 9.30am service and then open session at 11.15am.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
(hard hitting but part of ‘truth telling’ that needs to happen)
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we work and pay our respects to Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging.
Sovereignty has never been ceded. It always was and always will be, Aboriginal land.
We recognise the past atrocities against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this land and that Australia was founded on the genocide and dispossession of First Nations people.
We acknowledge that colonial structures and policies remain in place today and recognise the ongoing struggles of First Nations people in dismantling those structures.
The struggle to seek justice, to remember and address this nation’s past is ongoing and is a necessary requirement for individual and collective healing process.
We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart to achieve justice, recognition and respect for First Nations people and a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution.
We accept the invitation contained in the Statement to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
Source: Australian Centre for International Justice, https://acij.org.au/about-us/acknowledgement-of-country/
HOST A CONVERSATION
‘Listen to the Heart‘ – Common Grace are encouraging churches to organise and host community events July – September 2023, to engage your congregation and broader community in deeply listening and holding gracious conversations in the lead up to the Referendum later this year. More information here.
Table Talk Conversations
The Yes, Together movement and Common Grace will be equipping and supporting people to host conversations, using the ‘Kitchen Table Conversation‘ model. It typically involves gathering a group of up to 10 people for a small group discussion around a particular issue (in this instance the issue is a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament). During this conversation, the conversation host would use provided materials to help guide a conversation around the upcoming referendum and invite guests to ask questions and have honest conversations. It can be held in a home – either around a kitchen table, in the living room or a backyard – or in a public setting like a park or café. More information here from Common Grace and Together Yes.
Uluru Statement Start a Yarn (keep an eye out for new dates)
The yarning circle concept is used by many First Nations peoples across the world. It’s a space for active listening and reflection. Join a yarning circle to learn more about First Nations culture and why the Uluru Statement and a First Nations Voice are so important.
Online, open to anyone.
NETWORKS (and many denominational networks)
Common Grace will continue to provide training, resources and opportunities to listen, pray, give and join in action by:
- helping to host and organise events in your local community
- attending training to meet with your parliamentarians about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice
- having conversations with your friends and community about the upcoming referendum
- creatively engaging in listening to the voices that have been calling for Aboriginal Voice and justice in these lands, and
- inviting your church to support and partner with Common Grace
(Youtube presentation introducing Common Grace campaign here)
From the Heart/Yes23 is a campaign for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament that is enshrined in the Constitution. It is now time for the Australian people to come together through a referendum and make this fair and practical change. From the Heart is the coordinating organisation supporting an Indigenous voice to parliament referendum and their campaign will involve recruiting volunteers, door-knockers and grassroots groups. Download From the Heart campaign toolkit and resources.
Allies for Uluru – Resources (antar.org.au)
Allies for Uluru is a coalition of 144+ organisations and thousands of individuals, and will be providing timely and relevant resources for community groups and individuals. Allies for Uluru will act as ‘conduit’ for organisations to support yes campaign, and includes Fred Hollows Foundation and Oxfam.
RESOURCES (print and online)
Translated Voice to Parliament Factsheets and Videos in 45 Languages available here: Voice to Parliament – Resources and Information | Life Without Barriers (lwb.org.au)
Great resources can be found on the Allies for Uluru website.
UNITING FOR THE VOICE – A voice to Parliament: 2-page explainer
Here’s a very useful Referendum resource prepared by the Baptist Union of Victoria
And a paper from Rev Michael Dowling from Blackwood Uniting Church in SA. Very comprehensive – would make a great study resource for a small group.
Quarterly Essay 90 – June 2023
Voice of Reason: On Recognition and Renewal by Megan Davis.
Why a First Nations Voice to Parliament is a “constitutional moment” that offers a new vision of Australia.
Uniting Church in Australia – resources and information here.
The downloadable study guide on the Statement from the Heart was written by and for Second Peoples seeking to explore and pursue a truthful, just and meaningful relationship with First Peoples. Either on your own or in a group, you can explore over six sessions what First Peoples have said about Voice.Treaty.Truth in the Statement from the Heart. There is also a Facilitator’s Companion Guide for a study group. (Author Tim Molineux, Justice and International Mission, Vic/Tas UCA Synod).
A voice in the wilderness 8 part study guide on the Statement from the Heart (free downloadable PDF) written by Celia Kemp, Anglican Board of Mission’s Reconciliation Coordinator. As well there is a leader’s guide.
Crying Out – A Response to Exploring the Statement from the Heart and Care for the Environment
(Roman Catholic and Uniting Church dialogue in South Australia)
Responding to common concerns about an Aboriginal and Islander voice (Australian National University) – recommended
The Voice (Government website) – straightforward overview.
Government website for the Voice
In May 2023, Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney launched the government’s website, voice.org.au, designed to be a place to go for factual information about the proposal to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament that would be enshrined in the Australian Constitution. She says Australians will need it to be well-informed.
The Voice to Parliament Handbook
Thomas Mayo* and journalist Kerry O’Brien have co-authored The Voice to Parliament Handbook (available through bookstores and also Big W for $12). The handbook answers the most commonly asked questions about why the Voice should be enshrined in the Constitution, and how it might function to improve policies affecting Indigenous communities, and genuinely close the gap on inequalities at the most basic level of human dignity.
(*Thomas Mayo, formerly known as Thomas Mayor)
A new multilingual poster contains a short message about the Voice referendum and directs people to the website for more information in their preferred language. You can download and share the poster across your digital networks, or print to display in your workplace or community area.
Indigenous Voice to Parliament Resource Pack (downloadable resource prepared for congregations by Baptist Union of Victoria)
Excellent powerpoint, prepared by Jenni and Barry Mitchell (Creative Ministries Network, Port Philip East Presbytery, Vic/Tas Synod, Uniting Church in Australia. Download at link.
Powerpoint resource on the Statement, by Rev Canon Glenn Loughrey
Referendum Information Booklet designed to be able to understand and to talk with others about the Statement from the Heart, by Rev Canon Glenn Loughrey
Social media ’tiles’ available in 45 languages from Life without Barriers. .
Unpacking the Statement from the Heart with Rev Canon Associate Professor Glenn Loughrey (and recorded by Initiatives of Change Australia) – really helpful to share & discuss with a group.
Canon Glenn Loughrey has produced three downloadable resources – 2 pamphlets and an e-book. Recommended.
What is The Voice pamphlet
FAQ on The Voice
Voice and Statement from the Heart e-book
Glenn Loughrey’s compilation of websites
Glenn’s website has excellent resources.
Other websites he’s recommended:
https://www.pm.gov.au/media/address-garma-festival https://voice.niaa.gov.au/final-report# https://www.reconciliation.org.au/reconciliation/support-a-voice-to-parliament/
https://anglicanfocus.org.au/tag/uluru-statement-from-the-heart/ https://anglicanfocus.org.au/tag/first-nations-voice/ https://yes23.com.au/resources/
Catholic perspectives on reconciliation and a Voice to Parliament
- Address of John Paul ll to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Blatherskite Park, November 1986
- Br Brian Price, Walking with Australia’s Indigenous requires listening with the heart, November 2019
- Catholic Religious Australia – submission to the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s request for an Indigenous Voice that is protected in the Constitution, April 2021
- Australian Catholic Bishops Conference endorsement of the Uluru Statement – Bishops endorse Uluru Statement from the Heart, November 2021
- Archbishop Peter Comensoli on the Uluru Statement – Uluru statement offers gift of grace to our nation, June 2022
- Plenary Council – Reconciliation: Healing Wounds, Receiving Gifts, July 2022
Related resources and links
A most insightful article by Walter Brueggemann on the Ethical Dignity of the Other, tracking the way ‘European’ colonisation was wholly unappreciative of local, native cultures and learning. That lack of appreciation led to the conclusion that “other peoples” were the unacceptable “other,” that is, different in ways that were therefore unfamiliar, unwelcome and dangerous. It led to the dismissal and/or elimination of the “other” that did not meet European expectations and requirements, taking the form of colonialism, enslavement, or genocide.
Chris Budden, Following Jesus in invaded space:doing theology on Aboriginal land.
Chris Budden, Why indigenous sovereignty should matter to Christians
Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor
Statements from the soul: The moral case for the Uluru Statement from the Heart edited by Shireen Morris.
A collection of passionate essays from religious leaders arguing for a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution
In this ground-breaking collection of essays, diverse religious leaders and thinkers come together to advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Contributors from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities powerfully convey why a First Nations voice to parliament is necessary not only legally and politically, but also morally. Drawing on their unique spiritual beliefs, they argue that the Uluru Statement offers a profound opportunity to heal the wrongs of the past and ensure a better future for all Australians. A rallying cry of support across religious and political divisions, Statements from the Soul shows that the Uluru Statement goes to the heart of who we are as a country and is essential to reconciliation.
With a foreword by Noel Pearson and preface by Henry Pinskier. Contributors are Sabah Rind, Wesam Charkawi, Fiona Jose, Sardar Ajmer Singh Gill, Prakruthi Mysore Gururaj, Bhikkhu Sujato, Stan Grant, Antonios Kaldas, Ralph Genende, Russell Broadbent, Karina Okotel, Kanishka Raffel, Peter Comensoli, Anthony Ekpo, David Saperstein and Rowan Williams.
Listen to the ABC podcast with Stan Grant about the book.
Fr Frank Brennan, a revised version (May 2023).
This revised edition includes an Epilogue titled The Failed Quest for Bipartisanship on the Voice that addresses the new discussions, plus additional Appendices.
WEBINARS, VIDEO/AUDIO RESOURCES
Rev Canon Garry Deverell’s presentation at the Walking Together conference (text): How can churches respond to their colonial heritage?
The Voice in Conversation – a new video featuring Brooke Prentis on ‘Good’. Brooke speaks through the lens of faith about the Voice. Excellent resource for viewing as a group in your church and as a catalyst for discussion and conversation.
Available on the ‘Good’ website (you need to create a free account).
Direct link is here.
Boyer Lecture 2022 – Noel Pearson
Indigenous community leader, lawyer, academic and land rights activist Noel Pearson reflects on ‘who we were and who we can be’.
(click on link)
Voice to Parliament, Voice to the World
Professor Henry Reynolds was the special guest at the University of Adelaide Bragg Theatre on 7 May, which was also part of the 2023 SA History Festival. Henry’s presentation was a tour de force. He made a powerful case for the YES vote in the coming referendum based upon Australia’s commitment to international conventions on the rights of indigenous people (including several historic Adelaide associations). Henry strongly rebutted the ‘rights’ argument advanced by the No campaign; quoted an astonishing statement by Tony Abbott, in support of constitutional recognition and indigenous representations to parliament from last decade, which is quite at odds with his current position; and outlined a number of scenarios which would follow either the success or the failure of the referendum. He believes the failure of the referendum will have profound international ramifications for Australia.
The talk was followed by forty minutes of questions and comments from an attentive and appreciative audience.
Listen to the audio of Professor Reynolds’ talk here.
The video below was recorded on 4/7/2023 during a webinar hosted by Gippsland Anglicans on the topic of “Yarning About the Referendum”. Guest speaker is The Revd Canon Associate Professor Uncle Glenn Loughrey. He is joined by The Revd Canon Aunty Phyllis Andy, and The Revd Kathy Dalton. The panel host is The Rt Revd Dr Richard Treloar, Bishop of Gippsland. An audience of about 70 people attended the webinar.
Recognition and Voice in Constitution. Access to recording via Dropbox here.
Everything you need to know about the Referendum and the Voice (Youtube clip)
(the link will take you to Youtube for an excellent 13.41 introductory video)
Professor Anne Pattel-Gray‘s seminar is a call to the churches to support a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
Rev Canon Dr Garry Deverell‘s seminar is a lecture on the Uluru Statement and the design of the Voice. Garry is a Lecturer and Research Fellow, School of Indigenous Studies, University of Divinity.
A seminar on the Uluru Statement with Rev Canon Dr Garry Deverell, Rev Dr Katalina Tahaafe-Williams and Rev Tau’alofa Anga’aelangi.
A seminar on the Statement with Nathan Tyson, Anaiwon/ Gomeroi man and Manager, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement in the NSW/ACT Synod of the Uniting Church, the Rev Emily Hayes, UCA minister at John Flynn Memorial Church, Alice Springs, NT, Dr Laura Rademaker, Historian at Australian National University, whose book Found in Translation: Many Meanings on a North Australian Mission was awarded the 2020 Hancock Prize and the Rev Tim Matton-Johnson, Panninher man, currently living on Mumirimina country (Kutalayna: Lower Jordon river Valley, TAS.: at least 40,000 years of continuous human occupation.) Now retired; formally a UAICC minister.
A free online publication of the presentations is available on Trove
An excellent introductory video to the Statement and Referendum
On Monday, 20 February 2023, St Paul’s Cathedral hosted a panel discussion on the Voice to Parliament and its significance ahead of the upcoming national referendum. The event featured high-level experts in the field of Indigenous rights and cultural understanding, Canadian First Nations Leaders Lewis Cardinal, Chief Lee Crowchild and Rainbow Cardinal, as well as the Cathedral’s First Nations Canon, Uncle Glenn Loughrey.
On Youtube here. Professor Anne Pattel-Gray shares her insights into Australia’s First Nations religious and spiritual beliefs and practices that form the core of her theology. She explained how we are all held captive by our colonial heritage and that our theological education and institutions require liberation in order to be set free. She further explained the process to decolonise biblical and theological narratives and challenge Christians to become the radical change that is so desperately needed to transform a Nation.
Thomas Mayo is a Torres Strait Islander born on Larrakia Country in Darwin.
History, Truth Telling, & The Uluru Statement from the Heart (webinar by Thursday 21 July 2022, now available on Youtube). An initiative of the Uniting Church National History Society in association with the University of Divinity and the School of Indigenous Studies, bringing together Indigenous leaders and historians.
Rev Dr Chris Budden, Voice.Treaty.Truth symposium
Auntie Denise Champion, Voice.Treaty.Truth symposium
Aunty Prof Dr Anne Pattel-Gray: Statement from the Heart
First People’s Assembly
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners of Country and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria.
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS)
VALS has partnered with Amnesty Victoria on their #raise the age campaign for the Victorian election. Amnesty has launched a form that allows Victorians to email their local candidates. You can check it out here.
Campaign: #Raise the Age
Did you know? In Australia, children as young as 10 years are being sent to prison. Discover what this campaign is about.
Jamie Thom (Brunswick UC) recently made this ppt presentation.
Sheena Watt is a member of the Victorian Parliament, representing the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Legislative Council. She is the first Aboriginal Australian woman to represent the Australian Labor Party in the Parliament of Victoria.
Prior to becoming a member of Parliament, Sheena was an Executive Manager at AFL SportsReady and on the Board of Directors for some of the most important community organisations in Victoria.
Sheena has extensive experience in Aboriginal Affairs, health and employment and has a strong commitment to advocate for those who face poverty, discrimination, or disadvantage. She is committed to breaking down structural inequality and supporting healthy and connected communities.
Yoorrook is the first formal truth-telling body for First Peoples in Australia. Yoorrook means “truth” in Wemba Wemba. The Commission was established in May 2021 to hear, record and address the truths about First Peoples’ experiences of colonisation in Victoria since 1788 to now. Yoorrook has summarised the core elements of the Commission’s mandate into three central goals:
Truth – Yoorrook will create a lasting public record of historic and ongoing systemic injustice, how it came to occur and who
or what is responsible. It will draw on a wide range of sources and take a holistic approach that recognises both the diversity, commonalities, and continuities of First Peoples’ experiences.
Understanding – By deep listening to the voices of First Peoples, hearing their experiences, and learning how culture has evolved and survived amid trauma, Yoorrook will enable the broader Victorian community to understand the links between past, present and future.
Transformation – Yoorrook will propose changes to laws, institutions and systems which can be taken up through treaty negotiations and other ways to build new relationships between all Victorians, including by holding the State accountable. These reforms must remedy injustices against First Peoples so that Victoria can turn a new page.
Read the interim report here.
The report details Elders’ experiences of historical and ongoing systemic injustice at the individual, family, community and state level organised under eleven key themes:
- Dispossession and dislocation
Listen to Aunty Stephanie Charles at the Swan Hill Yarning Circle
- Political exclusion, representation and resistance
Listen to Geoff Clark and Jidah Clark at the Gariwerd (Halls Gap) Yarning Circle
- Families, kinship and stolen children
Listen to Uncle Johnny Lovett yarning in Hamilton
- Stolen wages and economic marginalisation
- Legal injustice and incarceration
Listen to Aunty Liz Heta at the Wodonga Yarning Circle
Listen to Braydon Saunders yarning at Lake Condah
Listen to Aunty Tina Wright yarning at Lake Condah
- Injuries to body and spirit
Listen to Marjorie Thorpe at the Lake Tyers Elders’ Yarning Circle Note: This video contains images of people who may be deceased.
- Disrespect and denial of culture
- Damage to, and denial of country
Listen to Uncle Possum Clarke-Ugle at the Framlingham Elders’ Yarning Circle
Listen to Tati Tati Traditional Owners at Robinvale
- Stolen and misused knowledge, culture and data
- A colonial education system
- Public silencing and denial
In addition to the issues of concern raised by Elders, the first interim report outlines the foundational work of the Yoorrook Justice Commission in establishing culturally appropriate and trauma-informed processes to ensure participant safety and wellbeing including:
- developing a methodology based on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing
- adopting terms from Victorian First Peoples’ languages for key processes
- designing a social and emotional wellbeing support model that uses the strengths, resilience and connectedness of First Peoples and their communities to provide a safe, supportive and culturally appropriate forum for First Peoples
- developing Indigenous Data Sovereignty and data governance policies and systems to make sure First Peoples keep control over how their information is used
- designing our nuther-mooyoop (submissions) and wurrek tyerrang (hearing) processes to minimise trauma and provide First Peoples with options for how they can engage with Yoorrook’s inquiry
- making sure our premises and communications are culturally appropriate
Finally, the report proposes that the next phase of Yoorrook’s work focus on two priority areas — state-sanctioned removal of First Peoples’ children from their families, and the continuing injustices experienced by First People in the criminal justice system.
Contact: Yoorrook, 54 Wellington Street Collingwood
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