Parliament needs a cultural overhaul


Victorian Greens MP Lidia Thorpe is calling for an Aboriginal Cultural Advisory Group and concrete improvements in the practices at parliament to show more respect and acknowledgement of the First Peoples of Victoria, in the wake of the treaty process being formalised in legislation.

Ms Thorpe has written to the Speaker of the House with a series of recommendations designed to give Victoria's Aboriginal history and culture greater prominence alongside its long-acknowledged colonial past, and she will raise the issues during a grievance debate on Wednesday. 

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, Lidia Thorpe.

“As an Aboriginal person, I don’t feel at home at parliament. I am surrounded by monuments to British colonialism and history, it’s as if Aboriginal history, art and culture doesn’t exist.”

“We need an Aboriginal Cultural Advisory Group established to provide recommendations on how the buildings, grounds, and practices of parliament can be changed to acknowledge and respect the culture of Aboriginal people.

"I'm pleased to see that Labor has followed the Greens' lead and is now standing during the Acknowledgment of Country at the opening of the sitting week, but far more needs to happen.

"The Parliament is supposed to be a place of leadership and vision, but many basic and common marks of respect are not there. For example, there are no plaques on the outside of parliament or the electorate officers to recognise the Traditional Owners of the land. That's got to change.

"With the spirit of treaty in their hearts and minds, I call on the Speaker and President of the Houses of Parliament to come together to make meaningful changes to ensure the First Peoples of Victoria are shown respect and their cultures are embedded in the fabric and practices of Parliament.

"The Parliament of Victoria is adorned in historical features and traditions, but they are almost all references to British culture. Australia's cultural fabric is much richer than this, and Parliament should reflect that.