A new website launched by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and the Victorian Government offers Australians the opportunity to ask questions of the Aboriginal community without fear of offending or being labelled ignorant.
Deadly Questions allows users to submit questions about Aboriginal culture and lifestyle that will be personally responded to by one or more of the site’s ‘champions’ – celebrated Aboriginal Victorian icons including musician Adam Briggs, artist and writer Carissa Lee, and Natarsha Bamblett of the AFLW’s Richmond Tigers.
Sent live shortly before the conclusion of Reconciliation Week 2018, the site is designed to drive conversation as the Victorian government prepares to debate a proposed treaty with the state’s Indigenous people.
All questions are reviewed before being sent to the ‘champions’, but any and all legitimate queries are welcome, even if their basis lies in racial stereotypes.
“This is an opportunity for any Australian to ask that question and say the thing that they are too scared to ask, or too afraid to ask”, Richard Frankland, a filmmaker and ‘champion’ hailing from the Gunditjmara people, told The Guardian.
“Not every Aboriginal person will agree with this and neither should they have to, because we are all different.”
Questions already asked include “Why can’t Aboriginal people get over the past?”, “Can you get more welfare if you’re Aboriginal?”, and “Do many Aboriginal people still live in the bush?”
These questions highlight much of the misunderstanding that surrounds the Indigenous community and why, now as much as ever, the discussion surrounding their rights is so important.
“We’re starting from so far back in this country in terms of a relationship with our Aboriginal people that we are not even mending a relationship, we actually needed to create one”, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne’s ECD, Evan Roberts, explained to Mumbrella.
The campaign originated from the realisation that Australians often feared being mocked or considered racist if they were to ask such basic questions. By providing a platform that offered both anonymity and directness, these fears could be negated, and the journey to compassion and understanding begins.
Meanwhile, state parliament convenes today to debate the treaty issue. Initially scheduled to commence two weeks ago, the legislation has been met with criticism by Victoria’s only Aboriginal MP, Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, who has called it “flawed” and suggested she will not support it in its current condition if put to a vote.
If the legislation isn’t passed by November’s state election, there are concerns it will be abandoned altogether if a Coalition government were to come into power. Already, the federal government has rejected a proposal to install an Indigenous advisory body, while earlier this year, a newly-formed Liberal government put talks on indefinite hold in South Australia.