"> MEDIA RELEASE: First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria establishes interim Elders’ Voice | 14 July 2021 - First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria

MEDIA RELEASE: First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria establishes interim Elders’ Voice | 14 July 2021

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria are announcing an interim Elders’ Voice to provide cultural advice, wisdom and oversight from Elders across Victoria to the work of the Assembly.

The Assembly is the democratically-elected voice for Aboriginal Communities in Victoria working to establish a framework for the negotiation of a state-wide Treaty and Traditional Owner Treaties at the local level. The establishment of a dedicated Elder’s Voice is a way to ensure the Assembly’s nation-leading work towards Treaty is grounded in respect for Elders and guided by their cultural wisdom.

The interim Elders’ Voice will work to establish the foundations for the permanent Elders’ Voice through community consultations with Elders across the State, aiming to ensure the permanent Elders’ Voice and Victorian Treaty process reflects the priorities of Elders in Victoria.

Respected Elders and Assembly Members Aunty Charmaine Clarke and Uncle Andrew Gardiner have been appointed as the interim Elders’ Voice Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs will personally attend consultation sessions and support Elders in the development of the permanent Elders’ Voice, which will inform and guide the work of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

Aunty Charmaine Clarke, a proud Gunditjmara woman, celebrated the introduction of the model and spoke positively about the knowledge Elders can bring to the Treaty negotiation process.

“The strength of Aboriginal Elders, and their long fight for justice, has brought us to this point in our State’s history. We are grateful to receive our Elders’ direction on our historic path towards Treaty, and we will listen to the collective wisdom and knowledge they share to inform our journey,” Aunty Charmaine said.

“We encourage Elders across Victoria to attend these community consultation events to have their say on the form the permanent Elders’ Voice will take.”

Uncle Andrew Gardiner, a proud Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung man, said that the consultation process will be underpinned by four cultural pillars – respect, connectedness, knowledge base and lore of the land.

“Our permanent Elders’ Voice is something our community has been calling for since the beginning of the Treaty process. It has always been a priority of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria,” Uncle Andrew said.

“Today marks an historic day for Victoria’s path to Treaty and I am proud to stand alongside Aunty Charmaine and help drive this important discussion.”

The format and structure of the permanent Elders’ Voice will be designed and led entirely by Elders to ensure the principles of self-determination for Aboriginal Elders are represented, and their voices are heard in the Treaty process.

The interim Elders’ Voice will begin community consultations across the State from early August. For more information on the interim Elders Voice please visit: www.firstpeoplesvic.org/our-work/elders-voice

For more information on the Treaty journey and to have your say, head to www.firstpeoplesvic.org or call 1800 TREATY (1800 87 32 89).

For media enquiries, please contact:

Tommy Clarke | M: 0422 545 763 | E: TommyC@firstpeoplesvic.org

About the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is the elected voice for Aboriginal people and communities in future treaty discussions with the Victorian Government.

For 230 years, Australia has been one of the only Commonwealth nations of its kind without a treaty with its First Nations People. In Victoria, this is changing.

The Assembly represents communities in setting the ‘ground rules’ for treaty. This includes a framework for negotiations – which sets out how Treaties can be agreed upon in Victoria. It will also help set up the treaty Authority, who will be the independent umpire through the treaty process. The Assembly has not been established to negotiate treaties.

The Assembly has 31 members – 21 elected by a state-wide vote held in 2019 and 10 nominated by formally-recognised Traditional Owner groups.