Interview

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Talks Deadly Questions

 

“…embedding respect in our community”

This is pretty important [to Treaty] because it starts the dialogue in the general community on the need and support for Treaty and what is at the core of Treaty, which is about our First Nations people and embedding respect in our community and of course with government.

Natalie Hutchins, MP

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Talks Deadly Questions and Treaty.

by Charles Pakana

During The Long Walk celebrations at Melbourne’s Federation Square on the 2nd of June this year, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins announced the start of the Government’s Deadly Questions campaign.

According to the Minister, the campaign, with its web basis, gives non-Aboriginal Victorians the opportunity to ask the questions they have always wanted to ask but may be too afraid or embarrassed to ask.

She joined Charles online to discuss the new initiative.

Important to Treaty

When asked about the response to the site, the Minister said that within four days of the launch there were over 10,000 visits to the site and hundreds of questions asked. 

“One of my favourite questions is ‘Are you less Aboriginal if you have fair skin’,” she said. “It’s quite a commonly asked question but not to Aboriginal people. To hear the response, it really sets the record straight, I think, that it’s about identity and spirit and not about the colour of your skin.”

In commenting on the importance of the campaign to the overall success of the Andrews Government’s Treaty work, the Minister responded: “This is pretty important because it starts the dialogue in the general community on the need and support for Treaty and what is at the core of Treaty, which is about our First Nations people and embedding respect in our community and of course with government.”

The Treaty Bill and a Voice to Parliament

In bringing the conversation around to Treaty and the current Bill’s potential passage through the Victorian Upper House, the Minister said: “Given that we know that a this stage there’s no change to the Liberal and National Party position on supporting Treaty process legislation going through Parliament, we know we’re gong to need to have the support of the Greens and cross benchers who sit in the upper house.”

With the Minister’s counterpart in Western Australia having recently announced that the WA Government intends to introduce an Indigenous voice to Parliament, Ms Hutchins said that in Victoria it could become party of the Treaty process.

“To be honest, it could become part of the Treaty settlement that we reach,” she said. “Nothing is off the table.

“I remember in the very early days of discussion at our forums there were people calling for some sort of system in our State Parliament providing checks and balances against legislation about how they affect Aboriginal people in the State.

“That could be an outcome and we’re willing to look at that.”

 

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