The August 2019 Forum took place on Wadwurrung Country (Geelong/Surfcoast area) across the weekend of 17-18 August.
Our annual regional tours and forums give us the chance to meet, catch up with, and learn from others working at a grassroots level across Victoria to promote reconciliation. They also give us an invaluable opportunity to get to know a different part of Victoria from the perspective of a Traditional owner. This year, we had the absolute privilege of being shown some of the significant cultural sites of Wadawurrung country by Traditional Owner Corrina Eccles. The oral history she shared as well as her own personal insights and experiences with ongoing efforts to increase recognition of local sites were eye-opening and humbling. She brought the local history alive for us all and showed how it was still very much relevant today by sharing her thoughts on the current Treaty process.
The event sold out yet again, a great sign that there is a real desire and hunger to learn more about our Aboriginal history. Special thanks to Corrina and also to the Geelong One Fire reconciliation group - not only did they plan the weekend, they also put on a fantastic barbecue dinner at the end of a long day. The conversations continued at the forum the following morning, and we look forward to more discussion at the AGM in October.
Our first Statewide Reconciliation Forum for 2019 was held on Saturday 6 April at the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Ringwood East, and was attended by around 70 people.
The focus of the forum was where Treaty is at in Victoria and the role non-Aboriginal people can play in supporting this important work. The forum included:
• Guest Speaker: Jill Gallagher AO, Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner
In a moving presentation, Jill explained her role as Commissioner and put a powerful case for Treaty/ies as something Aboriginal Victorians have long called for - a historic opportunity to further the process of truth-telling and enable Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorian to "recast our relationship". She updated the gathering on the election process for positions on the recently established First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria, to be elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria and reminded us that non-Aboriginal people have a critical role to play in building political and community support for Treaty through talking with family and friends, as well as Members of Parliament to show them that "Treaty is not just an aspiration of Aboriginal people, but an aspiration of all of us".
• Treaty Engagement Project Launch - Phase 2
Reconciliation Victoria's CEO Diana David launched Phase 2 of our Treaty Engagement Project, congratulating Ms Gallagher on her inspirational work and reiterating her message that the time is right for the reconciliation movement and non-Aboriginal supporters of Treaty to show leadership in spreading the word on the benefits of Treaty to the whole community. For more information on our Treaty Engagement Project, visit here.
• Reconciliation Victoria/Local Reconciliation Groups/Network Updates
The forum concluded with updates from Reconciliation Victoria on other aspects of our work, including National Reconciliation Week 2019, the HART Awards and the exciting next step in our education work - the Narragunnawali Regional Engagement Program - to commence in the second half of 2019. Representatives from the twelve Local Reconciliation Groups also shared their plans for National Reconciliation Week 2019 and beyond. If you would like to see the full forum notes, contact the office.
On Saturday 27 October, around 80 Reconciliation Victoria members and friends, gathered on Wurundjeri Country, at Darebin Parklands in Alphington to reflect on the past year of activity in the reconciliation space and to celebrate Culture in Victoria.
The day included a campfire discussion involving local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members sharing their ideas on the proposal to establish an “Aboriginal Knowledge Council”, guided walks on the Spiritual Healing Trail led by Uncle Trevor Gallagher, a moving performance by Wergaia & Wempa Wempa singer-songwriter Alice Skye, our AGM and a Special General Meeting that endorsed the proposed rule changes that include a shift to a skills-based Board.
A full program of the day is available here. Download the SGM Minutes. Download the AGM Draft Minutes.
Our August 2018 Forum was held on Saturday 18 August at MAYSAR - Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation in Fitzroy.
Over 60 Reconciliation Victoria friends and supporters attended this forum including representatives from 15 Local Reconciliation Groups and a number of local councils, as well as many new faces from across the state. After a warm and engaging Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Colin Hunter followed a moving presentation of the MAYSAR story and an update about the Treaty Process from Diana David of the (VTAC).
Our annual regional forum this year was held on Wurundjeri Country over the weekend of 14 - 15 April.
It began with a Welcome to Country at Dights Falls by Uncle Bill Nicholson Junior, and was followed by a tour of local sites along the Birrarung and Bolin Bolin Billabong in Bulleen. The tour was followed by a forum in the evening at Candelbark Farm in Healesville. On Sunday morning, after performing a cleansing smoking ceremony, Uncle Dave Wandin showed the group around Coranderrk, explaining the history of this important Aboriginal community and the work being undertaken there to care for Country and to restore and revitalise the property. In what was a wonderful and inspiring weekend, Elders of the Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation, Uncle Bill and Uncle Dave, generously shared their deep knowledge of culture, history and practice relating to the clans of the Woi Wurrung language group. All left with a much fuller appreciation of Wurundjeri Country past, present and future. Read more
Our AGM and Victorian Reconciliation Network Forum were held on Saturday 28 October 2017 at Community Hub @ The Dock.
Over 50 reconciliation members and supporters attended, representing 15 Local Reconciliation Groups from across Victoria, including individual community members, organisational representatives and people new to reconciliation. The day started with Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Ron Jones providing an informative Welcome To Country and sharing some history about his family and Wurundjeri Country. After the AGM formalities were over, a panel of Aboriginal speakers from Reconciliation Victoria's Council shared their perspectives on reconciliation in an engaging panel discussion. All speakers spoke passionately about sharing the truth and stories of what has occurred in Australia since invasion, challenging attendees to make new commitments towards reconciliation from ideas at the forum.
Guest speaker Jacob Boehme, Creative Director of Yirramboi First Nations Art Festival and proud member of the Narangga and Kaurna nations (SA) born and raised in Melbourne, then reflected on his personal experiences in organising Yirramboi, which performed to rave reviews in Melbourne earlier this year. Yirramboi is an Aboriginal led festival which invited some of Victoria's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and performers, and First Nations artists from around the world to share their culture and knowledge. Jacob spoke passionately about how the festival was led by Aboriginal people and guided by four key principles: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, visibility and dialogue, new ideas, and international collaboration.
Our Victorian ReconciliationNetwork Forum was held on Saturday 26 August 2017 with an audience of over 60 reconciliation friends including Local Reconciliation Group representatives from across Victoria, individual community members and people new to reconciliation at our office on Collingwood.
Jason Eades moderated the day and Reconciliation Victoria's Co-Chairs, Belinda Duarte and Michelle Isles, provided an overview of our new strategy, outlining our facilitation role focusing on the areas of local government, building the capacity of new and exisiting Local Reconciliation Groups and networks and defining our role in education. The forum provided an opportunity to hear about Reconciliation Victoria's work, including the initial outcomes of the Grassroots Reconciliation Local Reconciliation Groups Survey. There was discussion and sharing of ANTaR Victoria's and LRG's work as well as how to get involved in reconciliation in your community. Jill Gallagher provided an update around Constitutional Reform and Treaty with opportunity for the audience to participate in some productive discussion.
The annual regional Victorian Reconciliation Network Forum took place on Dja Dja Wurrung Country over the weekend of Friday 31 March - Sunday 2 April, based in Maldon and travelling throughout the area. 45 people representing 15 LRGs attended.
It was a wonderful and inspiring weekend, with Jaara. Elder Uncle Rick Nelson, Jida Gulpilil (Boort Lakes Aboriginal Eco-Tours) and Raquel Kerr (Dja DjaWurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) generously sharing their deep knowledge and rich stories. We came away with a much deeper understanding of this Country and its story and of the impressive work being done by the Jaara people to look after their Country, their people and their culture. We were also able to see first-hand how the landmark Victorian Recognition & Settlement Act provides the Jaara with legal rights to practice culture, to access and use their land and resources and to have a say in what happens on their Country.
Approximately 80 people from metro and regional Victoria attended the AGM on 12 November, followed by a panel discussion involving guest speakers Merinda Dryden (Miss NAIDOC 2016) and Indi Clark (Koorie Youth Council). Merinda spoke passionately of the need to work in partnership to have Aboriginal history taught in the school curriculum and of how it is culture that provides us with a sense of belonging. Merinda explained "Aboriginal culture must live in the hearts, minds and actions of ALL Australians because our diversity makes us richer - and together, we are stronger". Indi spoke of the importance of education and his passion for reconciliation. Indi emphasied that 'education and cultural awareness are the only way forward for this nation. Education can be the game changer to combat ignorance and prejudice, and you are never too old to learn.'
Over the weekend of Saturday 16 - Sunday 17 April, over 35 reconciliation supporters from around Victoria gathered on Gunditjmara country at Budj Bim, to learn about the Gunditjmara peoples’ connection to this very special place, and to connect with each other, to share, learn and build a stronger reconciliation movement. The group included people from Geelong, Shepparton, Ballarat, Whittlesea, Nillumbik, Port Phillip, Whitehorse, Stonnington, Banyule, Macedon Ranges, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Ranges.
We were welcomed to Country by Aunty Eileen Alberts and given a fascinating tour by Elder Denis Rose around the various sites that makeup Budj Bim and Lake Condah Mission. These included the sophisticated aquaculture systems, including stone eel traps and channels designed by the Gunditjmara people thousands of years ago. Denis also provided an overview of the Glenelg Aboriginal Partnership Agreement, an outstanding example of collaboration between local government and Aboriginal communities in Victoria. It was a special weekend and a privilege to spend time on this sacred country of global historical significance. Moves are being made to have the area declared a World Heritage site, to be restored and protected for future generations. If you are interested in knowing more about the Gunditjmara people and the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, and the World Heritage nomination, there are excellent resources on the Gunditj Mirring website.
Please contact us if you would like the detailed notes from any of the above or information on forums prior to 2016.