After seven months of meetings and consultation, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has today begun negotiations on the process for future treaty making in Victoria.
Assembly Co-Chair Marcus Stewart, a Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, says this is tangible progress in finally delivering treaties for Victorian Aboriginal communities.
“This really is a historic day. By formally gathering to establish the process for treaty discussions, this day marks the start of a new relationship between Aboriginal people and the Victorian Government as equal parties,” Marcus Stewart said.
“The Assembly feels the gravity and history which comes with this first meeting, and we’re looking forward to building a stronger future for our communities”.
This first official meeting will not involve formal negotiations on the treaty framework. Instead, it will commence discussions on the way the parties will work together to negotiate and set the precedent for all future treaty process negotiations.
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri woman, says this day shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“This is the start of our formal negotiations with the Victorian Government on how we will work together moving forward through all negotiations,” Aunty Geraldine Atkinson said.
“Without this step, future treaties would not be possible”.
In this meeting, the Assembly and the Victorian Government will discuss timelines for negotiations, an interim dispute resolution process, and will identify how the two parties will work together for all future negotiations on the treaty process.
Agreeing how discussions will progress and the rules each side will follow is important to effective negotiations. That’s why an interim dispute resolution process is one of the first points on the agenda.
Ngarra Murray, Chair of the Assembly’s Treaty Authority Committee and a proud Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Dhudhuroa woman says this will play a critical role throughout all our treaty framework negotiations with the State Government.
“Every negotiation process needs a fair and robust dispute resolution process that holds all parties to account,” Ngarra Murray said.
“I’m excited to be a part of the team that is bringing the collective voice and wisdom of the Assembly to this work with the State so that we can continue meaningful talks about the substantive issues – the treaty negotiation framework, Truth-Telling process, and setting up the Treaty Authority”.
The First Peoples’ Assembly has made real progress on delivering treaties for Aboriginal Victorians and this meeting – along with other significant steps, including the development of the Truth-Telling process and Stolen Generations Redress Scheme – demonstrates that.
For more information, or support, head to www.firstpeoplesvic.org/ or call 1800 TREATY (1800 87 32 89).
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About the First Peoples’ Assembly
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 statewide vote held in 2019 and 10 nominated by formally-recognised Traditional Owner groups.