(text of media release, 7th June 2022)
Members of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria – the democratic voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the journey to Treaty – and the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, held a ceremony on June 7th to mark the agreement to establish a key part of the architecture to enable Treaty negotiations.
The agreement to establish an independent Treaty Authority to oversee Treaty negotiations and help resolve disputes was marked with a ceremonial signing at the Assembly’s Chamber Meeting held on Gadubanud Country of the Eastern Maar people in Lorne.
Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said the hard work of the last two years was starting to deliver tangible progress on the journey to Treaty.
“Ours is the oldest living culture on the planet. It’s clear that our lore and law has stood the test of time and I’m overjoyed and very proud to see it being embedded into the very core of the new institutions we’re creating to get Treaty done,” said Aunty Geri.
The Treaty Authority will be led by First Peoples and will sit completely outside of the usual Government bureaucracy and will not report to a Government Minister. However, the legislation tabled in Parliament on Tuesday is required to facilitate its creation – to allow it to employ people, lease an office, etc.
Assembly Co-Chair and proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said the establishment of the Treaty Authority was a positive and strong indication the Victorian Government was willing to do things differently.
“The reality is that since invasion, western systems have by and large inflicted serious harm on our people. If we want Treaty to deliver, if we want it to improve the lives of our people, we have to think outside the colonial system and instead put Aboriginal culture at the heart of all we do. I’m pleased to say this agreement does that,” Mr Stewart said.
The Authority will facilitate and oversee Treaty negotiations in Victoria and help resolve Treaty related disputes – including between Traditional Owners. It will have a funding stream detached from the standard politic cycles.
Authority Members – all of which will be First Peoples – will be appointed by a panel independent of government.
“We’re making great progress toward Treaty here in Victoria and I think there’s a lot of lessons to be drawn from our experiences as the national push for Voice, Treaty and Truth gathers momentum. The key thing is to make sure First Peoples are driving the process,” said Mr Stewart.
Adam Pulford | M: 0424 885 387 | E: email@example.com