The Minutes of Evidence project has been built on a model of engagement and collaboration – between University scholars, government and community organisations, Indigenous community members and the performing arts, and with theatre audiences, school students and teachers. Engagement and collaboration have been central to shaping the Project's framework, practices and outcomes, and essential in ensuring its success.
If the Aboriginal is put into the question, he will strive to keep his own law.
That is where I consider you have failed.
minutes of evidence,
1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry
A public symposium ('Just Encounters: Bringing Together Educaction, Arts and Research'), was held at the State Library of Victoria on 15 August 2014. Click here for more information.
Project engagement meetings
Throughout the development of the Minutes of Evidence project, the project has engaged widely with the community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Consultation with local Indigenous community members in Melbourne and Healesville, overseen by the Koorie Heritage Trust, ILBIJERRI and La Mama, has been a feature of the development of Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country, and the development of the Coranderrk Inquiry Minutes of Evidence Curriculum and Teacher Resource Package.
Starting in 2009, Giordano Nanni approached Senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin to propose the idea of restaging the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry. Following the initial pilot readings of the play in 2010, Rachael Maza (ILBIJERRI Theatre Company), Jennifer Bates (Koorie Heritage Trust), and Julie Evans (University of Melbourne) took part in several meetings with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI), the Wurundjeri Land Council, descendants of Coranderrk, and Indigenous community members in Melbourne and Healesville, around the staging of performances and the broader scope of the Minutes of Evidence project. These meetings established the basic principle of engagement on which the project was subsequently founded; and they resulted in special preview performances of the play being staged on Coranderrk land for the benefit of descendants of the community. (Read more...)
This principle of collaboration continued with the development of the Coranderrk Inquiry Minutes of Evidence Curriculum and Teacher Resource Package, which benefitted from consultation and engagement between project partners and community members and organisations, overseen by VAEAI, the Department of Education and La Mama. As part of this engagement, an induction day for teachers and curriculum writers was held at Worawa Aboriginal College. (Click to read more)
The importance of establishing relations with the community has been a sound basis for the Minutes of Evidence collaboration and for thinking about the reciprocity of interests that can be expressed in and through the project. An e-bulletin has enabled communication of outcomes to interested community members, keeping people updated about the project's progress and upcoming events. (To receive the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry & Minutes of Evidence project e-bulletin, please contact us and request that your email be added to the mailing list)
During the course of the project, researchers and partners have given several presentations, guest lectures, talks and formal conference papers as a means of engaging publicly with the key themes of the Minutes of Evidence project. Click here for a full list of presentations given to date.
Question & Answer sessions were held following the performances to give audiences an opportunity both to provide feedback to the cast and project team, as well as to engage in conversation around the issues raised by the performance. Participants in these Q & A sessions have included Koorie historian and writer Tony Birch, writer and Senior Research Associate on the project Giordano Nanni, playwright Andrea James, directors Rachael Maza and Isaac Drandic, historian Bruce Pascoe, historian and Chief Investigator on the project Julie Evans, cultural historian Chris Healy, author/film-maker Richard Frankland, and the cast of various performances.
Audience Feedback was collected in a number of Comments Books which were provided at various performance during 2011-12. Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members offered valuable feedback on the performance, highlighting how emotionally moving and powerful the story is. Audiences also praised the quality of the acting and production in bringing the 1881 Inquiry alive into the present. Some highlighted the personal connections they had to the performance and felt it brought them closer to their own history. Others who were new to the Coranderrk story were thankful for being introduced to such an important event in Australia’s past. Many expressed the hope that the performance would keep raising awareness of the story on a national stage and expressed the opinion that young people, in particular, needed to know about Coranderrk.
Introductory talks were given to provide the necessary cultural and historical context for the performance. These were conducted by Dr Tony Birch. The video below was recorded at one of the first pilot readings of the play, in August 2010.