Report to Community on the Elders’ Voice

Nov 3, 2023

Following extensive consultation by respected Elders, Aunty Charmaine Clarke and Uncle Andrew Gardiner, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has formally established the Elders’ Voice.

The Assembly acknowledges the role, status and cultural authority of the Elders’ Voice as an essential part of the Assembly’s governance.

Shaped by the wisdom of Elders

For almost two years, the Interim Elders’ Voice Co-Chairs, Aunty Charmaine and Uncle Andrew, spoke with over 390 Elders across the state, in yarning circles, meetings, kitchen-table conversations, individual phone calls and long yarns.

It was one of the most extensive consultations with Elders in Victoria’s recent history. Elders told us how they define Eldership, how the Elders’ Voice could be structured and where and how it should meet.

This rich community feedback is summarised in a 28-page report called When Elders Speak, We Listen, A report to the Community on the Elders’ Voice.

How the Elders’ Voice will do business

The Elders’ Voice will engage and seek input from Elders through a calendar of Elders’ forums, meetings and yarning circles held at the state, regional and local level.

The Elders’ Voice will meet on Country, wherever Elders are and support Elders’ participation. It will work closely with all Traditional Owner Elders’ Councils and all new and emerging Elders’ groups around the state.

There was strong and consistent community support for the Elders’ Voice to be culturally strong, flexible, and inclusive as it provides cultural and ethical advice, guidance, wisdom and oversight.

Four cultural pillars, cultural safety protocols and the use of a Message Stick are built into the Elders’ Voice meetings and yarning circles.

The Elders’ Voice and Eldership

It was clear from consultations that First Peoples’ families, clans and communities across Victoria value their Elders highly, and each define and give the responsibility of Eldership in their own unique and culturally determined ways. As such, the Elders’ Voice will not define Eldership or define who an Elder is.

“Our Elders are defined by our family groups.”

All Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Elders living in or with ties to Victoria are welcome at Elders’ Voice events.

New Elders’ Voice Co-Chairs

Assembly Members Aunty Esme Bamblett and Uncle Rodney Carter have now been appointed to lead the
Elders’ Voice, bringing Elders together across the state to share their knowledge and guide the Assembly’s historic journey to Treaty in Victoria.

How to get involved in the Elders’ Voice

Call the Elders’ Voice Hotline, email us, or find an in-person Elders’ Voice gathering happening near you. Sitting fees will still be paid for your time and input.

Phone: 1800 TREATY (1800 873 289)