Indigenous Victorians respond to ‘deadly questions’

Adam Briggs of A.B. Original is one of many Aboriginal Victorians responding to the questions.

Adam Briggs of A.B. Original is one of many Aboriginal Victorians responding to the questions. Photo: Deadly Questions

Aboriginal “champions” have answered some of the questions non-Indigenous Australians may have been too afraid or embarrassed to ask, as part of a Victorian government push towards treaties.

Questions can be logged into the Deadly Questions website, launched last week, for Aboriginal Victorians to answer.

“Why can’t Aboriginal people get over the past?”

To that, Gunditjmara playwright Richard Frankland said the effects of colonisation needed to be recognised first.

“I can’t be healed. I can’t get over it until my non-Aboriginal colleagues can get over it. Until we stop living with a nursery version of history,” Mr Frankland said in one of the video responses.

Outspoken rapper and Yorta Yorta man Adam Briggs, one half of A.B. Original, took on the question of whether Aboriginal people “get more welfare”.

“Can I get more welfare if I’m Aboriginal? I haven’t found it,” he laughed. “If there’s a line for the ‘more welfare’ they didn’t point it out to me. I missed that line.”

“Do you prefer ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’?” Briggs said that was all about context, and noted some people were uneducated and simply doing their best.

Actor, writer and academic Carissa Lee said both terms were fine.

“I like being called ‘First Nations’, Aboriginal’ – ‘Indigenous’ is a bit weird, makes it sound like they’re talking about a plant, but you know,” the Wemba-Wemba woman said.

Aunty Pam Pedersen, a Yorta Yorta Elder, said she sometimes used the term “Koori” but told others she liked “Aboriginal”.

Ben Abbatangelo, Deputy CEO of mentoring group AIME, took on the question: “Why don’t we see many Aboriginal people around?”

“You’ve got a mindset and view that Aboriginal people only look a certain way. I see our mob every day.”

The Victorian government launched the online platform last week to “provide a public space for Aboriginal Victorians to discuss history and how it affects their lives today, as well as share the strength and vibrancy of their cultures, with the aim of building understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people”.

It comes as Victorian parliament debates legislation for treaties.

The opposition on Wednesday confirmed it would not support the treaty bill, preferring a national response.

The Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations called that a “cop out”, and accused the opposition of disempowering the voices of 7000 Victorian Aboriginal people who have been consulted throughout the process.

The government has issued amendments in a bid to get Greens support, including putting a definition of treaty in the bill, defining traditional owners and requiring that they form part of the Aboriginal Representative Body.

The amendments also guarantee the independence of the Treaty Authority, and the government has indicated support for an Elders Council, but do not specify who will represent Aboriginal Victorians or restrict or determine what will be included in any treaty.

Victoria’s first Indigenous female MP, Lidia Thorpe of the Greens, welcomed Labor’s willingness to negotiate and said it had led to meaningful improvements.

But Ms Thorpe was disappointed with the lack of recognition of the sovereignty of First Peoples.

“We will continue to work toward a Treaty process where the First Peoples of Victoria, the Clans and First Nations, are central to decision making and negotiations.

“The Elders Council must be made up of self-determined representatives of the Clans and First Nations, not government appointed officials as has been the case with previous bodies.”

A $700,000 grant scheme was announced on Wednesday to support traditional owner groups, Aboriginal organisations and businesses in treaty negotiations.

“It’s important the treaty process continues to be led by the Aboriginal community,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins said.

Payments of up to $10,000 will fund small consultations or “treaty circles”, while grants of up to $100,000 can be used for more intense and ongoing consultation, as well as research and planning.

-with AAP

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