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Engaging all Victorians on treaty

The Deadly Questions campaign to build understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and give Aboriginal Victorians a platform to tell their stories and amplify their voices.

Impact of the Deadly Questions campaign

In June 2018, the Victorian Government launched the award-winning Deadly Questions campaign to build understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and give Aboriginal Victorians a platform to tell their stories and amplify their voices.

The campaign provides an opportunity for non-Aboriginal Victorians to acquire deeper knowledge of Aboriginal cultures, history, and the issues facing Aboriginal communities. The Deadly Questions website ( au) contains videos and written content from Aboriginal Victorians in response to a range of questions posed by the public. Deadly Questions plays a pivotal role in building support for treaty and ensuring all Victorians understand the progress and significance of the treaty process.

Since its launch, the Deadly Questions website has received more than 645,000 site visits and over 4000 questions have been asked. The campaign has had an earned media reach of over 9 million, with 410 earned media stories secured. Deadly Questions has reached many Victorians resulting in 48 million online impressions supported by advertising across digital platforms, billboards, radio, television and print media.

Deadly Questions exists to increase understanding of the treaty process in Victoria and the role the Victorian Government is playing in building a partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal community.

Understanding Deadly Questions research

Independent research highlighted the success of Deadly Questions and demonstrated the potential to shift attitudes towards Aboriginal communities, cultures and the treaty process.

Over the past 12 months, there has been a lift in positive sentiment among non-Aboriginal Victorians towards building better relationships with Aboriginal Victorians with a 7% increase in participants agreeing that this is necessary (compared to the benchmark percentage in June 2019) and a 9% increase when recognising the benefits of building these relationships. Support remained broadly consistent across age groups, gender and location (metro vs regional).

Those who had seen the campaign were significantly more likely to believe that treaty would be a positive step forward and understand the benefits of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together to build better relationships.

Activity through National Reconciliation Week and AFL Dreamtime round in 2019 were pivotal to the engagement and increased exposure of this phase with successful partnerships with the AFL and PedestrianTV contributing to awareness.

Deadly Questions and White Night partnership

DPC partnered with Visit Victoria’s White Night event in 2019 to deliver a collaboration between the Deadly Questions campaign and award-winning artist Wathaurung (Wadawarrung) Elder Aunty Marlene Gilson in the form of art projections.

The voices and videos of six Aboriginal Victorians from the Deadly Questions campaign were integrated with the piece, 'Land Lost, Land Stolen, Treaty' by Aunty Marlene Gilson over a 10-minute video mapping sequence.

The video was projected onto the façade of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne at the White Night event from 22 -24 August 2019 and the façade of the Bank of NSW Building in Ballarat at the White Night event on 21 September 2019.

Following the projections at White Night Melbourne, visits to the Deadly Questions website increased by over 30,000 visitors.

Contributing to public conversations on treaty

Treaty has been a key talking point at many public events and forums over the past year. The Victorian Government has taken an active role participating in public conversations around treaty, in the interests of maintaining an open and transparent process. Over the past year, government ministers and representatives from DPC have delivered a series of educational and conversational presentations, including at the following events.


IPAA panel discussion ‘How can the public sector support self-determination panel’, August 2019

This panel discussion explored the Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Affairs Framework initiative, which includes 11 self-determination principles and provides a better understanding as to the current status of the treaty process. It also explored the Deadly Questions campaign.


Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) National Conference, November 2019

Deadly Questions was presented at the PRIA National conference. The presentation focused on the communications and public relations campaign and explained how to generate support from the public regarding readiness for treaty.


National Aboriginal Press Club event, December 2019

The National Aboriginal Press Club hosted an event in December where the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and former Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO delivered a speech on the treaty process.


Legalwise Native Title Intensive, March 2020

A Legalwise seminar examined emerging issues in relation to native title law in Australia, including the intersection between native title and Victoria’s treaty process.


Treaties and Reconciliation University of Melbourne panel discussion, May 2020

During Reconciliation Week 2020, Melbourne Law School in partnership with ANTaR presented the “Treaties and Reconciliation” webinar. Panellists addressed the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s call for truth-telling and a Makarrata commission, the prospects of Commonwealth involvement in treaty-making at the state and territory level, and what treaties could mean for Aboriginal sovereignty, prosperity and self-determination.