• Illustration of the Self-determination Vic Forum by Sarah Firth (Twitter)Source: Twitter
Sarah Firth illustrates the ideas and passion emanating from #SelfDeterminationVIC forum in Melbourne, Victoria.
29 May 2016 - 5:16 PM  UPDATED 29 May 2016 - 5:16 PM

Graphic artist Sarah Firth's illustrations capture key messages from attendants at the two-day forum, which began Thursday for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Victoria to form ideas about how to shape a relationship between the Indigenous community and Victorian Government.

"Over two days I carefully listened and captured live summaries of the diverse and rich ideas from the forum, using words and pictures, drawing directly into my iPad at a desk," Ms Firth told NITV.

"The recordings are a great way to share the key conversation points from these two days with the wider community, and to continue to expand the conversation in an inclusive and engaging way."

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The forum, moderated by journalist Stan Grant, comes during the annual Reconciliation Week, held between 27 May and 3 June, which aims to grow respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. 

Participants and speakers, including Indigenous playwright Richard Frankland, musician Kutcha Edwards and youth campaigner Nayuka Gorrie all called for a treaty, a legally binding agreement between the Indigenous people and the government, to strengthen Indigenous people's relationship with government and fight disadvantage.

Some forum members say that they want state and local treaties, and that these agreements would help keep governments accountable for their policies. They discussed treaties could encompass aspects such as Aboriginal culture embedded in town planning, a land tax, a future fund, designated political positions and a state-wide representative body.

Other members say the relationship between Indigenous and the government can grow when they get justice for atrocities that governments have perpetuated against them through colonisation, and can practice self-determination.

A part of the forum was designated to hearing what Indigenous youth want for their futures. They made strong calls for a treaty.

They also expressed desire for more educational opportunities and for larger society to better understand them. 

The forum wrapped up on Friday evening with some attendants saying they were uncertain about how a more mutual relationship between Indigenous people and governments would evolve.

However, they also expressed passion to drive the momentum forward with a majority voting to establish a steering committee. 

Karen Milward, a Yorta Yorta woman who participated, told NITV she believed the journey would "be long but it is one we need to take now. 

"We want to sustain our culture, language, traditions, beliefs, values and practices to be there for our future generations to enjoy and be proud of. We want a treaty in Victoria," she says.

Karen Milward says she thinks the graphic recordings are "a fabulous way to capture our individual and collective thinking about self determination and a treaty in Victoria".

"The pictures and words show our journey towards self determination and a treaty, and honour the diversity of voices united in one picture."

The work of Sarah Firth, an award-winning artist, spans illustrations, comics, animations, graphic recording and films, and she's currently working on her first graphic novel.

Her work emphasises human rights and justice issues such as the 2012 animated documentary Face to Face: Children’s Stories, which aims to grow awareness about children from disadvantaged backgrounds and won the Australian Shorts section of the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival.

She has also produced animations such as the Lady Gagarus Minajaperry, which explores pop culture and celebrityhood.

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