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Despite the high level of social restrictions facing Victorians and, in particular, Melburnians, the business of Treaty in Victoria continues; and a crucial part of that business is community engagement.
For the elected members of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, whose responsibility it is to act as an information conduit between the Assembly and community, those restrictions pose ongoing challenges.
Connection Matters Radio (CMR) caught up with one of the Assembly members to gain an insight into how those challenges were being faced…and addressed.
Gunditjmara man Rueben Berg is one of the Assembly’s 31 current members, elected by and representing the Melbourne Metropolitan Region.
In commenting on community engagement under COVID-19 restrictions, he told CMR: “It has been a big challenge, both in terms of not being able to go out to actual events in person, but there are distractions for everybody in their lives right now.
“There’s so much stuff going on that these sorts of conversations aren’t necessarily at the front of peoples’ minds.”
Taking it online
As would be expected, Mr Berg has – as have many of his fellow Assembly members – adopted an online engagement strategy. “Facebook’s one useful way,” he said, “and there’s different ways of using Facebook.”
Utilising Facebook in “different ways” has seen Mr Berg:
- post videos of himself talking to camera while walking in bushlands
- collaborate with fellow member Tracey Evans on hosting live discussions
- post links to externally hosted surveys that seek direct one-to-one feedback
Mr Berg has also set up a newsletter to provide community with updates, as well as a dedicated Youtube channel.
“I’m hopeful that when we go post-COVID and go back to trying to catch up with people in person…I think even when we get to that stage we’re going to have to change the way we do things to ensure we get to as many people as possible so they can share their views – good or bad – about Treaty,” he said.
Facebook live engagement 24 August
Note: On the 24th of August, Mr Berg and fellow Assembly member Tracey Evans are hosting a Facebook live event, commencing at 5pm.
The event can be accessed by going to Mr Berg’s Facebook page.
For more information
Call the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria on 1800 873 289