Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the minister outline to the house how the government has restored funding to Reconciliation Victoria?
Mrs POWELL (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) — I thank the member for Caulfield for his question and for identifying the importance of what is happening this week — that is, National Reconciliation Week starts on Friday. It gives me great pleasure to inform the house that the coalition government has honoured its election commitment to restore funding for Reconciliation Victoria. As I said earlier, National Reconciliation Week starts this Friday, and I hope members of this house will go to reconciliation events in their electorates, which is really important.
Tonight I will be attending Mission Australia’s Taste of Reconciliation dinner to announce that over the next four years this government will provide $800 000 to Reconciliation Victoria, as it promised at the last election. The dinner will also be attended by the shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs, the member for Richmond.
We restored funding to Reconciliation Victoria because we understand that the path to reconciliation is a long one — it does not happen overnight. We on this side of the house understand that. We know we have a long way to go. Reconciliation Victoria will have a leading role in the important task of improving the lives of indigenous Victorians but also crossing the boundaries of making sure that there is that value and integrity and understanding among non-indigenous and indigenous Victorians about the importance of our cultural history, the importance of our shared history and the importance of our connection with the country. We should all share that same symbolism.
We need to have an organisation like Reconciliation Victoria to provide that. There are non-indigenous and indigenous people in Reconciliation Victoria, which works with about 80 per cent of non-indigenous people. This is a body that works with non-indigenous people to try to stamp out racism, which is what we should all aspire to do, and to try to improve the lives of indigenous Victorians. One of the leading initiatives of this body is to stamp out racism and to change attitudes of prejudice. This government has a deep and abiding understanding of the respect held for the first peoples of this nation. We understand that the conversations around indigenous issues are evolving and changing and that what lies behind that is about respect. Reconciliation is about the mutual process of recognition and respect. It requires a commitment from both the opposition and the government to move forward with that respect.
The welcome to country has been spoken about. This government is the first government to initiate a welcome to country at the opening of Parliament. In fact the Premier supported that welcome to country. This was welcomed by the respected elders — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — Order! The house will come to order.
Mrs POWELL — This government initiated the first welcome to country at the opening of Parliament in December. It was provided by respected elders of the Wurundjeri and the Boonerwrung people — Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin and Aunty Caroline Briggs. We have also brought forward Australia’s first indigenous honour roll. Victoria will have the first indigenous honour roll to show respect and to identify those indigenous leaders across Victoria who have done a lot for our state. It is important for all Victorians to show that recognition and the value of our indigenous people.
In March this year the Premier, the Deputy Premier and I also signed the Closing the Gap recommitment — —
The SPEAKER — Order! The minister’s time has expired.