Victorian Context

 

Reconciliation Victoria are aware of the diversity of Victorian perspectives on the issue of constitutional reform. As an organisation we believe that working to negotiate and establish treaties and agreements is central to moving reconciliation forward and that this can occur in parallel and continue beyond constitutional reform. We appreciate the complexity of this space and strive to work in a culturally safe manner.

Following the initial community meeting in February (see our discussion paper for further details) we are encouraged to see that constitutional reform has remained an agenda item for the regional consultations throughout the year. We look forward to hearing about the final Melbourne forum in December. We believe it is critical that Victorians feel heard and included in this national campaign.

 

RecVic’s involvement to date

 

Reconciliation Victoria seek to put the proposal for Constitutional Reform in the broader context of the reconciliation journey, where it has come from, where it could lead and what it could mean for the bigger picture of Australia’s national identity, including treaties. We have endeavoured to facilitate inclusive and open discussion among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in communities, giving space for different viewpoints and questions.

  • We have facilitated over 170 events across Victoria since May 2013.
  • We have held over 12,000 conversations with people about Constitutional Reform through forums, stalls at festivals, school talks, and community/ organisational briefing sessions across the State during this period.

 

We have maintained a consistent approach over the past 3 years focussing on promoting local recognition of Aboriginal people, history and culture within communities across Victoria, to build a platform of recognition that would support Constitutional Reform – e.g. building awareness and recognition of local Traditional Owners, celebrating the contributions of local Aboriginal people and organisations.

 

Reconciliation Victoria is a founding member of the Victorian Constitutional Recognition Coalition (VCRC); which was established in 2011. The VCRC connects over fifteen organisations engaged and interested in the campaign, including non-Aboriginal peak bodies and organisations. The members include: Victorian Council Of Social Services, Uniting Church, Salvation Army, Victorian Council of Churches, Faith Communities Victoria, Oxfam, ANTaR Victoria, Geelong One Fire, Shepparton Reconciliation Group, Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Moreland and Maribyrnong Councils, and Aboriginal organisations: Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Organisation (VACSAL).  

 

We have kept the reconciliation network of 35 groups across the state up to date with information and resources on the campaign, including facilitating quarterly network meetings and offering encouragement and support to groups considering and running community events in their local area.

 

We have direct relationships with around two thirds of the 79 local councils across the state, as well as strong partnerships with Victorian Aboriginal organisations and representative bodies, national organisations with state affiliates and universities.

 

Victorian Constitution: Statement of Recognition

 

Victoria, along with New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and soon to be Tasmania have all have enacted constitutional amendments to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. These were enacted by State parliaments, without requiring a referendum.[1]

 

Victoria’s Constitution was amended in 2004 to include s1A ‘Recognition of Aboriginal People’; there has been some criticism that this change has led to no benefit for Victorian Aboriginal peoples. Victoria is unique in having the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, both these mechanisms have required the Victorian government to acknowledge our shared history as well as protecting fundamental human rights. Victoria is now the first state to enter into treaty negotiations with Traditional Owners.

 



[1]Expert Panel Report s4.2 http://www.recognise.org.au/wp-content/uploads/shared/uploads/assets/html-report/4.html