• Over 300 people registered for Victoria's Treay and Self Determination forum, May 2016. (Dan King)
Students, activists, community leaders, academics and anyone interested in the idea of a Treaty took part in Victoria's inaugural two-day 'Treaty and Self-Determination Forum' from May 26-27, 2016. After two packed days of talks which included some vigorous debates and a multitude of voices, NITV looks back at some of the key moments.
By
Laura Murphy-Oates

Source:
The Point
27 May 2016 - 6:54 PM  UPDATED 27 May 2016 - 6:54 PM

1. The crowd getting to their feet chanting ‘treaty’, led by renowned artist Richard Frankland

Only a few hours into the forum things were heating up - with frequent interjections from protestors in the crowd who were dissatisfied with the forum.

That ended when Richard Frankland jumped on the stage, giving an impromptu speech.

“The fact is 38 nations are here and it’s up to them to decide if they want a treaty…. let’s take it to the people,” said Mr Frankland.

“I want my children to have a voice.”

He then asked the audience to stand and began a treaty chant, with the majority of the 200 strong crowd joining in.

2. Kutcha Edwards acknowledging the Stolen Generations through music

 

Iconic performer Kutcha Edwards opened the forum, held on Sorry Day, with an emotional tribute to the Stolen Generations in song.

He referenced his own past as a member of the Stolen Generation in a teary performance, combining singing and spoken word, saying “five generations of my family have been affected by the policies of the government… how and why does this continue?”

3. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledging that Treaty is ‘overdue’

A video message from the Victorian Premier was played at the start of day one, where the Premier acknowledged that the treaty process is overdue.

“This treaty will be the first of its kind for our nation. Its something to be both sad and proud about because this treaty is well overdue, but the rest of Australia is listening and with your input, your voice, we can make history,” said Mr Andrews.

4. Condemnation of racism opens the youth forum

One of the most stirring speeches from both days was at the start of the second day by this year's recipient of the Ricci Marks ‘Rising Star’ award, Elise Muller.

Elise strongly condemned racism of Australian society saying that she grew up in a community divided into Indigenous and non- Indigenous.

“Everyone has a choice- to respect our culture or be ignorant,” she says.

5. Richard Frankland speech about changing a nation

As one of the Australia’s most experienced Aboriginal singer songwriters, author and filmmaker Richard Frankland gave a stirring speech about the leadership within Victorian communities on treaty.  

He said that although the dominant culture sees Indigenous people as “victims, problems and alcoholics” he has seen “warriors… people running organisations, bringing families together, bringing families home, facilitating our voice in every aspect of society you could imagine.”

He also spoke about the historic nature of the forum and treaty process.

“I think we are going to change the cultural tapestry of this nation for all time, and I think we’ve begun the process. We’re not only changing a nation, we are rebuilding it to suit our cultural shape.”

6. Nayuka Gorrie calling for powers under treaty to say no to fracking and coal mines

A youth panel of young Kooris dominated events on the morning of the second day.

Koori woman Nayuka Gorrie got a big round of applause when she spoke about what she wants from a treaty.

“I want to know how Treaty can give us the power to say no to fracking on our country,” she said.

Nayuka says we need "a mechanism to say no to burning coal on our country as it heats up the earth and cause the Torres Strait Islands to go under".

“If a treaty gives us the power to say no, for the government to listen, then I’m all for that,” she said.

7. Robbie Thorpe protesting outside forum

Long-time Krautungalung activist Robbie Thorpe was barred entry from the forum as he was carrying several protest banners.

He proceeded to protest in the  hallways outside the forum, laying out his banners on the ground.

He explained to NITV that he believed the Treaty process was not grassroots.

8. Fiery debates over representation of Aboriginal organisations 

A panel on representation during the second day sparked a fierce debate amongst the crowd about whether all Aboriginal organisations should be represented during Treaty talks, especially government departments.

Audience member Lydia Thorpe said some organisations have too much say and are not representative as they are government constructs.

That was angrily denied by Lionel Bamblett, General Manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, who said that every Aboriginal organisation in Victoria needs to be included and reminded the crowd of the strong history of Aboriginal organisations leading the way for change in Victoria such as the Aboriginal advancement league.

9. Teary tribute to the 1967 Referendum 

Diana Murray gave a teary tribute to the work of her father in campaigning for voting rights in the lead up to the 1967 referendum.  

She recalled travelling to Canberra for conferences about the referendum.

She was embraced by her son during her speech.

10. The Vote

Workshops were held on the second day to determine four questions for the forum to vote on.

The results were:

  • The majority voted for an an interim steering council about for treaty be formed
  • 81 per cent voted that the steering council should be reflective of the whole community i.e. young people, elders, traditional owners and Aboriginal organisations
  • 50 per cent voted for the next forum to occur in 6 months
  • A votes were passed stating that the community needs more information going forward
  • 94 per cent said they will continue the conversation after the meeting today