21 of the members were elected by Aboriginal voters in five districts around the state. The state’s 11 recognised Traditional Owner Groups each selected a member, bringing the total membership to 32. The Assembly will be accountable to the electorate of Aboriginal people and communities across the state Victoria.
There is no deadline for the negotiation framework (or ground rules) to be agreed by the Assembly and State of Victoria. This helps make sure the Assembly can take as much time as needed to make decisions but can also push for a suitably efficient process.
Formally recognised Traditional Owner Groups have guaranteed seats on the Assembly. This means a group recognised through the following processes are given guaranteed seats.
- Registered Aboriginal Party under the Aboriginal Heritage Act
- As having a settlement agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act
- Those that have Native Title over an area
Under the Assembly model, if another group gains formal recognition, they also get a reserved seat.
Assembly members are required to consult with community before each Assembly meeting (after the first) and be available for community to contact them.
The Assembly members are expected to meet 4-6 times a year to discuss business regarding advancing the treaty process. The Executive of the Assembly will meet more frequently
The structure of the Assembly reflects the model that has been developed by and presented back to the Aboriginal community over the last 3 years. The main decision-making body of the Assembly is the 32 members of the Assembly (21 general members appointed through the elections held in 2019 and 11 members appointed by formally recognised traditional owner groups).
The constitution requires that all major decisions on the development of the treaty process must be approved by the Assembly (ie the majority of members).
To run the day to day business of the Assembly, and implement decisions of the members, an executive of up to 9 people, including either co-chairs or a chair and deputy chair are elected. This is the board of the Assembly. There must be a gender balance on the board and of the chairs/deputy chair one must not be male.
All members will be supported to meet their duties, including through payment of a stipend, and travel support.
The Assembly will employ a professional staff to provide advice and administrative support to the members and implement decisions of the Assembly.
Is there going to be an Elders’ council to guide our mob through this treaty process? They are our knowledge keepers, our matriarch and patriarchs, and they need to have a seat at this table!
Elders will be central to the treaties process. Their wisdom, judgement and cultural authority will be embedded in it. This will make the process stronger.
These details are still being worked out. The Commission held an event with Elders from across Victoria in Melbourne in September 2018 and consulted with Elders across Victoria throughout 2019.
The Assembly will develop the Elders’ Voice, building on the consultations undertaken by the Commission.
You can vote if you are:
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- are aged 16 or above, and
- either: Are a traditional owner of Country in Victoria or
- Live in Victoria (and have done so for at least three of the last five years)
Assembly elections are a huge chance to have your say about Treaties, and have your views represented. You can be heard in this process by casting your vote for the representatives you want on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
People elected to the Assembly will play a big role as the Treaties process moves forward. By voting, you are exercising your political, social, economic and cultural rights.
If you are a Victorian Traditional Owner – ie your Country is in Victoria – and you live outside Victoria, you are eligible to enrol and vote.
Your vote will be counted in the region where you had previously lived. If you have never lived in Victoria, your vote will be counted in the region where your family lives or has lived.