Carolyn Briggs AM

Dr Carolyn Briggs AM, Member for the Metropolitan region

Proud Boonwurrung

Even for Dr Carolyn Briggs, an Elder with decades of professional experience and a PhD, the initial days of the Assembly have been full of learning and transformation.

“Almost a whole year getting used to technology and getting used to how you have to navigate. It’s a good tool for when people can’t be there. Everyone can still be at home and it brings us together,” she explains.

As she’s tended to do throughout her life, Dr Briggs wasn’t going to let that challenge stop the Assembly’s work from progressing.

“This is part of being in the Assembly and, now that we’ve unpacked ourselves and can attend these conferences and network and reconnect back with a lot of family units around here, the work will go on.”

Along with the Assembly’s core work, such as the Treaty Negotiation Framework, Treaty Authority and Self Determination Fund, Dr Briggs would like it to realise another ambitious goal.

“My dream is for my legacy to be an Assembly building. It’ll be for theatre, it will be for international Indigenous Peoples around the world to come to, it will be somewhere the Elders will have their place, it’ll be central to Melbourne, it’ll be our own parliament,” she explains.

“It will be distinctive, because it will bring together every element of stories that will be imbedded for our nations to come to a centre for world excellence from an Indigenous perspective.”

Dr Briggs is urging the whole Aboriginal community to get behind the Treaty process, saying the present will play a big part in our future.

“We need you all to come on board, because in isolation we cannot do it. We don’t want to miss out on the opportunities. I believe that we can only achieve this as a collective and I know that it takes all of us to move forward.

“We have to invest in what we can do now and leave the legacy of a solid foundation for the future.”

She believes the general public supports the process, but everyone also needs to be brought along with developments.

“I think they’re there, but they don’t quite understand it. We want them to come along.

“Victorians must understand that they have opportunities to use our assets – our Country, our waterways and our trees – which allowed them to establish their single economic base, so the Treaty process is taking it from a single entity to more of a circular one.”

Inaugural speech