The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Assembly) has met for its second meeting of the year and for the first time in-person since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members gathered on Wurundjeri country at the Worawa Aboriginal College, to welcome a new Member, establish an Elders’ Voice and to progress other work towards Treaty in Victoria.
It was the first Chamber meeting attended by new Assembly Member for the South West, proud Gunditjmara woman, Aunty Charmaine Clarke.
In her maiden speech to the Chamber, Aunty Charmaine shared her story as a member of the Stolen Generation who grew up in Ballarat orphanages with her five siblings.
Over the past 32 years, Aunty Charmaine has worked in State and Federal cultural heritage protection, environmental and social policy development, justice, mental health and family violence.
Aunty Charmaine replaces outgoing Assembly Member Sissy Austin who resigned earlier this year. Aunty Charmaine and the Chamber acknowledged the work and contribution of Ms Austin.
The Assembly Chamber gave overwhelming support to establish an Interim Elder’s Voice, a dedicated opportunity for Elders to have their voices heard in the work of the Assembly.
The Interim Elders’ Voice will be set up to run for three months and will involve Elders leading the way in the design of the permanent Elders’ Voice selection process, structure, role and responsibilities.
Elders across Victoria will be invited to participate in these meetings to ensure that the Elders’ Voice is designed by Elders themselves in true self-determination.
For more information, visit firstpeoplevic.org
Quotes attributable to Co-Chair Aunty Geraldine Atkinson
“We are thrilled to welcome Aunty Charmaine Clarke to the Assembly. Her work and life experience will ensure the South West are well-represented as we work towards Treaty in the Victoria.”
“The Assembly thanks Sissy Austin for her work and contribution and wish her the best for the future.”
Quotes attributable to Co-Chair Marcus Stewart
“Establishing the Elders’ Voice ensures the wisdom and knowledge of our Elders is enshrined in our work.”
“Our Elders are so important not just to the Aboriginal community but to all Victorians. They teach us, they guide us, they pass down traditions and culture. It’s simple: Elders voice, Elders choice.”