The Treaty journey so far

In our work towards Treaty, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Following generations of activism and leadership from our community, check out some of our recent milestones on the journey to Treaty for Victoria.


  • Aboriginal people call for treaty in a state-wide self-determination forum in Melbourne. The State agrees to explore treaty in Victoria. (May)
  • The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group is set up to consult with community on the design for an Aboriginal representative body to progress the treaty process. (July)
  • Extensive consultation, including convening an Aboriginal Community Assembly of 31 community members selected through an open process. (July 2016 – December 2017)


  • The office of the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner is established. Following an open recruitment process Jill Gallagher AO was appointed as Commissioner and commenced in the role in January 2018 (December)


  • The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group present its final report on the design of the Aboriginal representative body – the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. (March)
  • The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner hold ongoing consultations with the community. (March 2018 – September 2019)
  • The Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 is passed. It commences in August 2018. (June)


  • Elections for the Assembly are held by the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner. (September – October)
  • Assembly is established and holds its inaugural meeting at Parliament House. Assembly calls on the State to establish a Stolen Generations Redress Scheme. (December)


  • State announces it will establish a Stolen Generations Redress Scheme. (March)
  • The Assembly decides to explore pathways to additional reserved seats at the Assembly; decides to have both a State-wide Treaty and Traditional Owner Treaties; and The Assembly calls on State to work towards establishing a truth and justice process. (June)
  • State agrees to work towards establishing a truth and justice process. (July)
  • Assembly decides in principle that the Self-Determination Fund will be established as a trust; and
    everything is on the table for treaty negotiations. (December)


  • Interim dispute resolution, the first treaty element required under the Act is finalised with the State. Protocols that set standards for behaviour in negotiations are also agreed. (January)
  • Assembly and State announce agreement to establish Australia’s first truth and justice commission – the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission. An open expression of interest for Commissioners is launched. (March)
  • Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners announced and Letters Patent released, formally establishing the Commission. (May)
  • Established Interim Elders’ Voice for 3 months to finalise design of permanent Elders’ Voice. (May)

Current priorities

  • Claiming self-determination and political power through a State-wide Treaty and Traditional Owner Treaties.
  • Strengthening cultural authority and guidance through the Elders’ Voice and additional reserved seats.
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The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission 2018 – 2019

The Treaty Advancement Commission was an independent office, launched in January 2018.

Its job was to set up the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (formerly known as the Aboriginal Representative Body) and continue to build momentum on the journey to treaties.

The Commission was led by Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO, a Gunditjmara woman from western Victoria.

The Commission held more than 30 Aboriginal community gatherings across Victoria in 2018. The Commission subsequently revised the Treaty Working Group’s proposed model for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

The revised model was released at a Statewide Forum in September 2018.
The Commission received feedback from community members in late 2018 and released the final model in early 2019.

In 2019 the Commission also worked with community members who are in prison, to support people to be informed and engaged with the treaty process.

The Commission consulted with Elders across Victoria in 2019, as part of the work to design an Elders’ Voice in the Treaty process.

The Commission oversaw the 2019 First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria election that determined 21 of the Assembly seats. Enrolment opened in May, more than 70 candidates nominated, and voting took place between September and October.

The Treaty Advancement Commission ceased to exist once the Assembly was set up in late 2019.

Aboriginal Treaty Working Group 2017 – 2019

The Working Group was set up in 2017 and represented community. It included representatives from Traditional Owners, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, and young Aboriginal people.

It was the key voice to government in the process that led to the establishment of the Commission and the Assembly and co-authored the Treaty legislation. It guided government engagement and consultation with community.

When the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission was established, the Working Group took on a new role:

  • Providing strategic guidance to the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission
  • Providing expert advice to the Commissioner
  • Advising the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the performance of the Commissioner

These community members were part of the Working Group:

  • Dan Turnbull (Co-Chair, 2019)
  • Eleanor Bourke (Co-Chair, 2019)
  • Mick Harding (Chair, 2016-18)
  • Geraldine Atkinson
  • Indi Clark
  • Jamie Lowe
  • Janine Coombs
  • Jordan Edwards
  • Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin
  • Ken Stewart
  • Marcus Stewart
  • Muriel Bamblett
  • Paul Briggs
  • Rodney Carter
  • Vicki Clark
  • Jeremy Clark
  • Lidia Thorpe
  • Gary Murray
  • Aunty Di Kerr
  • Wayne Muir
  • Nikayla Bamblett
  • Jill Gallagher
  • Tarneen Onus-Williams
  • Laurence Moser

In 2018 The Working Group published a final report, outlining its recommendations to set up the Aboriginal Representative Body (now the Assembly), in March 2018.

Aboriginal Community Assembly 2017

The Aboriginal Community Assembly involved 31 Aboriginal Victorian community members, making important decisions about the design of the First Peoples’ Assembly / Aboriginal Representative Body in 2017.

These decisions included:

The legal form of the body;

How it would be governed; and,

How it would represent the community

In December 2017, the Community Assembly produced a full report to the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group on the issues referred to it.

Click here to access the report.

The Community Assembly finished after the report was completed.

These community members were part of the Community Assembly:

  • Aunty Joy Murphy AO
  • Uncle Bevan Harrison
  • Aunty Janet Turpie-Johnstone
  • Aunty Hilary Saunders
  • Uncle Stephen Walsh
  • Karen Jones
  • Antoinette Gentile
  • Neville Atkinson
  • Louise Chatfield
  • Shane Bell
  • Alister Thorpe
  • Alan Walsh
  • Jordan Edwards
  • Jade Hudson-Morgan
  • Emily Tipping
  • Jidah Clark
  • Aunty Fay Carter AO
  • Aunty Louis Peeler
  • Uncle Colin Bourke
  • Uncle Michael Bell
  • Lyn Thorpe
  • Daria Atkinson
  • Jesse Williams
  • Belinda Duarte
  • Tracey Onus Bamblett
  • Tiriki Onus
  • Kylie Spencer
  • Billy McGuinness
  • Christopher Saunders
  • Madison Connors
  • James Atkinson

Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians 2018 (the Act)

In 2018, the Victorian Parliament passed a law committing the government to the Treaty process.

This means the government is bound by law to work with the Assembly, for the purpose of advancing a Treaty process. It means the process is more secure.

This follows the Victorian Government’s decision, in early 2016, to explore a Treaty process. This was the first time a government in Australia had done so.
Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians 2018