Journeying Together Towards Genuine Reconciliation
Twenty five people gathered at Catholic Social Services Victoria in East Melbourne on Thursday morning 14 March 2019 to listen and reflect on the continuing journey of Aboriginal Reconciliation across the member organisations of CSSV.
Proceedings opened with an informative and challenging address from Jill Gallagher AO, the current Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.
Jill explained through stories and experiences that her role is not to make treaties but to establish a mechanism where treaties can be negotiated. Her main task is to create a First People’s Assembly to elected be from the 33 Traditional owners spread across Victoria into 5 ‘electorates’.
Then this Assembly will have three main tasks:
1) Negotiate with the State Government a multiple Treaty Framework
2) Set up a Treaty Authority to act as a type of independent ‘umpire’.
3) Establish a Self-Determination Fund which will build capability and capacity expertise.
Hopefully this will happen over the next three to five years.
After Jill’s gracious and enlightening presentation, a panel of Catholic Social Services Victoria personnel, led by Sherry Balcombe, Manager at Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne, shared on their organisation’s development of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) in recent years. The panellists were Esmai Manahan at MacKillop Family Services, Helen Morris at Centacare Ballarat and Sue Grigg at Jesuit Social Services. It was agreed a strong all staff commitment in the development of RAPs is essential and must be driven from CEO and Board level within an organisation. There also needs to be a comprehensive consultation process which is based on truth-telling and engagement with the local Aboriginal communities.
There is still many things that can happen within an organisation to heighten staff awareness and engagement and to build cultural competencies and safety across the organisation. At the conclusion of this forum Sherry Balcombe presented a list of practical activities that individuals and organisations can do in response to the challenge: What can I do to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People?
General feedback was positive and encouraging of another forum around these issues later in 2019. Hopefully after the election of the First People’s Assembly.