Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the relationship between the First Peoples’ Assembly and Treaty for Victoria?
The First Peoples’ Assembly is the democratic voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria and we’ve been tasked with getting Treaty done. We’ve been yarning with Mob all around the State to make sure we understand the collective hopes, needs and aspirations for Treaty. We’re now working to create the framework and ground-rules that will enable Traditional Owners of Country to negotiate Treaties with the Victorian Government.
Who can join the Assembly?
If you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, 16 years or older, and have lived in Victoria for at least 3 of the last 5 years, or if you’re a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria, then you can enrol with the Assembly. Enrolling with the Assembly is important for three key reasons:
- You can have your say about what you want Treaty to deliver and how we should get there
- You can vote in our Assembly elections, and
- The more Mob enrol, the stronger our voice and we can send a clear message to government that we’re serious about getting Treaty done.
What will Treaty deliver?
At this stage, nothing is off the table! So we need to think big and push hard. This is our chance to secure meaningful structural change to improve the lives of our people. So if you’ve got ideas – we want to hear from you! Enrol and come along to one of our many yarning events or drop us an email. Treaty is about putting First Peoples in the driver’s seat so we can make the decisions that affect our communities, our culture and our Country. Check out the About Treaty page for information about some of the key concepts being worked on for the Treaty Negotiation Framework.
Where are things at with the negotiations?
Take a look at the Treaty page for an overview of the concepts currently being discussed as we establish the framework and ground-rules for future Treaty making. Negotiations for the actual Treaties will come later – the current term of the Assembly is only focused on negotiating the foundations and architecture that will enable Treaty negotiations to take place in the next term of the Assembly, after our next election.
What’s an Assembly Member?
The Assembly has 31 Members – people who have been chosen by Mob throughout Victoria to represent their communities. Details of our current Members can be found here. Assembly elections are held every four years. If you think of the Assembly as our Parliament, then the Members are our politicians – it’s their job to listen to the views in their communities and then make decisions about what needs to be done on the journey to Treaty.
What’s a reserved seat on the Assembly?
The Assembly has two types of seats – general and reserved. General seats are filled by Members who have been elected by communities in particular regions during Assembly elections, and reserved seats are for representatives from particular Traditional Owner groups. To have a reserved seat, Traditional Owner groups either need to have formal recognition under legislation or can apply directly to the Assembly provided they meet certain criteria.
More information about applying for a seat can be found here.
Which Traditional Owner groups are on the Assembly?
The Assembly’s Membership is as diverse as the Community it serves, with a number of Nations and family groups represented in Chamber. Anyone who is a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria is eligible to stand for election to the Assembly. Visit our Meet the Members page for the full details.
Who is eligible to vote in Assembly elections?
People on the Assembly’s electoral roll are eligible to vote. Our electoral roll is exactly that – ours. It’s made by First Peoples, for First Peoples and is completely independent from the Government or the Australian electoral roll. You can enrol with the Assembly if you are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who is at least 16 years old and who has lived in Victoria for at least three of the last five years. If you are a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria, but are living interstate, you can still enrol.
What if my Mob isn’t from Victoria?
All Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are welcome to enrol with the Assembly – the only requirement is that you’ve lived in Victoria for at least three of the last five years.
What if my Mob is from Victoria, but I’m living somewhere else?
It doesn’t matter where you are currently living – if you are a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria, you can enrol with the Assembly.
If I enrol, do I have to vote?
No, you don’t have to vote in each election and you will never be fined for choosing not to vote in one of our elections.
If I enrol with the Assembly, does it mean I also have to enrol in other elections – like the federal election?
No, enrolling with the Assembly is just about Treaty and is completely separate from any other organisations and the government. Our electoral roll is exactly that – ours. It was made by First Peoples, for First Peoples.
What’s the role of Elders?
In addition to enrolling like everyone else, we believe our Elders should have a unique role to play to ensure their wisdom and resilience inform the journey to Treaty. We’re currently in the process of designing our “Elders’ Voice” – a permanent forum or arm of the Assembly that will help keep us culturally strong and guide the work of the elected Assembly Members.
What’s the difference between the First Peoples’ Assembly and the Yoorrook Justice Commission?
The Yoorrook Justice Commission is a separate and independent organisation, but its creation was something the Assembly successfully negotiated for at the beginning of our first term. Yoorrook is tasked with overseeing an in-depth Truth-telling process about the historical and ongoing injustices experienced by our people since invasion. It will deliver its findings to both the Assembly and the Victorian Government and its recommendations can inform the shared journey to Treaty.
I’m interested, but want to learn more before I enrol, what should I do?
You’re welcome to attend any of our Yarning Circle events to learn more. Or a member of our engagement team would be happy to have a yarn with you over the phone. At the very least, we encourage you to join our emailing list so you can stay informed about the steps being taken on the journey to Treaty.
What can I do to help on the journey to Treaty?
If you’re Mob, the single most important thing you can do is to enrol with the Assembly. If there’s one thing politicians understand it’s numbers, so show your support by enrolling with us and help us build our collective power. And of course, we’d love to hear your ideas about Treaty and for you to have your say in choosing who represents you on the Assembly. If you’re a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria you might want to consider standing in the next Assembly election. If you have particular interests or skills that you want to contribute to our efforts, drop a line to our engagement team or check out the jobs we’re currently advertising. If you’re not Mob, but want to help, please join our emailing list to listen and learn about the journey and stay tuned for ways to show your support and help. To start with, you might want to show your support and help spread the word by ordering one of our Ally Packs.