Esmerelda ‘Esme’ Bamblett, Member for the Metropolitan region
Proud Bangerang, Wiradjuri and Taungurung
For almost two centuries now, the Aboriginal people of the collective lands now known as Victoria have been treated as foreigners on their own Country, but Aunty Esme says Treaty can help redress that imbalance.
“I believe in Treaty because it goes somewhere towards returning to the rightful owners of Country the rights that have been denied us since colonisation,” Aunt says.
“My ancestors would be so pleased that we finally have recognition of our rights as Traditional Owners and I want to do as much as I can to make the most of this opportunity.”
Aunty Esme says the work she and other Members are putting into the Treaty process now is more about the future than it is about the present.
“I want to look forward seven generations and know that I have contributed to a time when my descendants have rights that my ancestors were denied,” she explains.
“This is a time when our culture can be given the recognition it deserves in this State.”
Although Aunty Esme acknowledges the Assembly’s first term has been challenging, given the COVID-19 lockdowns, she says the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission is proof the work is still being done.
“It has been a difficult year because of Covid 19 and the lockdowns, however these challenges have not interrupted our work as we have achieved much during this time,” she says.
“The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission is a great achievement that will assist the Assembly in our future negotiations with the State because it will build on the evidence of what has occurred historically to our people and reparation for the suffering of so many.”
In reflection, Aunty Esme again looks to the future.
“The Treaty will reinforce our status as Traditional Owners of our Country, it will give us a voice at the table and resources for us to assist our community members in need of support to reach their destiny,” she says.
“We want to maintain our culture, strengthen the identity of our children, raise the profile of our culture, and ensure that we have a say over our countries.”