The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was launched at Parliament House in late November 2019.
Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Georgina Nicholson gave a warm and insightful Welcome to Country. Wominjeka!
The Hon. Marlene Kairouz MP, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, praised the RAP as formalising ‘the principles of self-determination that [the Foundation has] embedded in the development of appropriate and culturally safe measures to prevent and address gambling harm’.
Particular mention was made of the members of the Aboriginal cooperatives that deliver gambling awareness programs, for their ‘trust, goodwill and leadership’.
These cooperatives are the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative, Mallee District Aboriginal Services, Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.
A number of their representatives were in attendance at the launch, including some who flew in from Mildura.
In speaking about the RAP, Wotjobaluk and Dja Dja Wurrung woman and Foundation deputy chair, Belinda Duarte, said ‘vision is critical’. The RAP aims to both inspire and operate as a framework for tangible actions, with Aboriginal cooperatives playing a critical role.
‘Real change happens with people on the ground. You know what works best in communities,’ Ms Duarte said.
‘The RAP instils a deep commitment and a public awareness of how we intend to build just and respectful relationships with the First Peoples … and a greater sense of who we are.’
The word ‘deep’ was repeated throughout Ms Duarte’s heartfelt comments: ‘deep drive’, ‘deep connection’, the Foundation’s ‘deep support for truth-telling’, giving an indication of the strong feelings engendered by the RAP.
And while the event had the formality that can be expected at Parliament House, it was also full of emotion, perhaps most clearly given voice in the songs presented by two musicians from the Mission Songs Project; a moving example of Aboriginal storytelling in harmony.
Foundation CEO Shane Lucas called the performance ‘a moving reminder that healing can only begin when there is an understanding and acknowledgement of past wrongs.
‘Fundamental to reconciliation is an acknowledgement that the intergenerational effects of colonisation, trauma, dispossession, cultural loss and separation from family, clan and Country continue to be acutely felt, and to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people.’
In the foreword of the RAP, the Foundation ‘recognises achieving social justice, community inclusion, cultural respect and self-determination as the basis to addressing harm from gambling’.
But Mr Lucas clarified that the RAP is also ‘a practical document that lays out a program of activities’ with Aboriginal leadership at the heart of its design, delivery and evaluation ‘to ensure that prevention, early intervention and treatment programs are … tailored for communities.
‘We’ve made a promise to include Aboriginal leadership in every single activity that affects Victoria’s Aboriginal communities,’ he said, ‘and that is a binding promise.’
The RAP was developed with leadership from the Foundation’s Aboriginal Gambling Harm Reference Group, which comprises Aboriginal community leaders and is chaired by Ms Duarte.
The Wurundjeri Land Council also provided cultural advice before the RAP was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.
The Foundation’s endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the development of the RAP align us with the Victorian Government’s Treaty negotiations with the state’s Aboriginal communities; an Australian first.
‘We’re on the journey,’ said Ms Duarte, of the Foundation.
‘Stay invested in vision. Stay connected and authentically committed to what we all want, which is to see our communities thrive.’
View a video of the launch and download our RAP: Reconciliation Action Plan.