When the Assembly took over parliament house in Melbourne for its first Chamber in December 2019, Robert Ogden said he hoped they were starting something that would honour the losses, sacrifices and struggles of the ancestors.
“I hope we can listen to the aspirations of First Peoples in Victoria and find solutions to issues that have plagued us, plagued our people, since colonisation,” he said in his first speech.
“We will have our differences, but we must at least try to work together for an outcome.”
Reflecting on the Assembly’s first term so far, Mr Ogden says there have been disagreements, but the Members have worked together to advance the Treaty process and achieve some real outcomes for Aboriginal people.
“We all persevered online and have ticked off some milestones with progress on the Elders’ Voice, for example, and have set us up for real progress on the Treaty Negotiation Framework, Treaty Authority and Self Determination Fund in the next 12 months.”
Mr Ogden says it’s important to note that the Assembly and the Treaty process won’t erase the hurt and atrocities of the past, but it’s a chance to build real outcomes for Aboriginal people.
“There’s been many false promises and lost opportunities of the past, so I understand if people are skeptical of this chance, but I see this as a method that can bring lasting benefits and justice. I think we needed, as First Peoples,
a platform that we control and have initiated, then the healing process can start – and I believe Treaty is that process,” he says.
“If we unite behind this process we can reclaim the ability to live our lives as we choose, we can drive lasting structural change for future generations. This is our moment to come together – us mob and settlers – and create a fairer way of doing things and walking and learning side by side with respect.”