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Community consultations

The purpose of this most recent phase of consultations was to seek further instruction from the Aboriginal Community on the design of the Representative Body. There are six model elements required to establish the Representative Body. They are: purpose, entity structure, representation,
governance, funding and roles and functions. The focus of the Phase 2 Community Consultations was to seek direction on the ‘representation’ model element.

During the 13 December 2016 forum, the attendees provided clear direction on how to structure the next round of consultations in 2017. Attendees wanted the Aboriginal Community to lead their own consultations with an easily accessible online consultation platform and further face to face

This resulted in the development of the following three consultation approaches:

  1. Face to Face Community Consultations
  2. Treaty Circles
  3. An Online Message Stick

This approach – informed and endorsed by the Working Group – provided the best opportunity, given the time constraints, to engage with Community. It also reinforced the Working Group’s commitment to delivering a process that is self-determining in its design.

We held the Face to Face Community Consultations in six (6) regions across Victoria, they were:

  • Echuca: Tuesday 7 March
  • Mildura: Thursday 9 March
  • Portland: Tuesday 14 March
  • Sale: Thursday 16 March
  • Wodonga: Tuesday 21 March
  • Melbourne: Thursday 23 March

The consultations were run between 10am-3pm and then repeated between 4pm-7pm at each location to allow people to choose between the daytime and the evening session. This again was aimed at ensuring maximum participation. The content of the Face to Face Community Consultations was consistent with Treaty Circles and the Online Message Stick.

To begin each Face to Face Community Consultation we described the background, history, timeline and context of the journey towards Treaty; explained what we were there to discuss; and explained how the current process fits in with the pathway towards Treaty/Treaties. This provided each community with the opportunity to discuss its thoughts on Treaty and discuss the consultation process as well as understand why and what we were there to discuss with them.

We then proceeded to discuss the following elements of representation:

  1. Voting – who can vote and how is voting organised
  2. Candidates – who can be chosen as candidates and how
  3. Electorates – How people are nominated to be on the Representative Body (voting boundaries)

To do this eight (8) questions were put to participants via a questionnaire. In formulating the questions, the Working Group took into account a series of considerations that have emerged during the Phase 1 Community Consultations.

These include:

  • How inclusive representation as a design principle is applied to each of these representative components
  • The distinctive authority and roles of Traditional Owners, historical people and stolen generations
  • How the voice of Aboriginal people is heard and addressed through regional and grassroots structures in a way that is culturally appropriate and practical.

Participants at each consultation were asked to listen, ask questions and workshop the elements of representation through the questionnaire provided. The final part of the Face to Face Community Consultations was providing participants with the tools to go back to their family, friends and community to hold the same discussion they had just had through a Treaty Circle. This came in the form of a Treaty Circle Handbook – of which over 600 were handed out across the State during March-April 2017. This provided the Aboriginal Community not only with the tools to conduct their own
Treaty Circle but also with a valuable and informative handbook with background, context and information on the journey towards Treaty.

An Online Message Stick was created to complement the Community Consultations and Treaty Circles as it was recognised by the Working Group that not all members of the Aboriginal Community would be able to attend the consultations or a Treaty Circle. The Online Message Stick provided participants with the chance to provide their ideas and opinions on the same topics that participants in the Face to Face Community Consultations discussed in their workshops.