Matthew Burns

Matthew Burns, Member for the Metropolitan region

Proud Taungurung

“Stick with us.”

That’s the advice of Matthew Burns, a Member from the Metropolitan region, who says the issues are sometimes complex, but the work is too important for Community to lose interest.

“It definitely is a tough slog. There’s a lot of information to digest and given we are in a post-colonial community, we really need to be involved in policy and things like that so stick with us. Really engage with your Members and Community.

“If you’ve got questions to ask, it’s really important that you get in and engage with your representatives because people are there to help answer questions and hopefully provide support to you so I’d encourage that.”

Mr Burns says it took a lot of the Assembly’s time and energy just to establish itself as a representative organisation in the earliest days of its first term, but he emphasises that apart from the administrative side of things, some really important business has also been done.

“We’ve got through such a heavy policy load and I think we’ve achieved some fantastic things, and I hope that that’s provided a platform for us to take through the next couple of years and make some progress.”

He thinks the next 12 months will see development in three key areas of the Assembly’s work. “I’d love to think we’re in a pretty good place to almost be finalising the framework and in a really good position for the Authority and then clearly in the right direction for the Self-Determination Fund to assure that when our term comes around, we’re in a position to hopefully, assuming the collective here want this, be electing people who may be sitting on a negotiation body for a statewide Treaty.”

Mr Burns is encouraging the general public to support the Aboriginal community in the Treaty process, but he acknowledges that the Assembly must help non-Aboriginal people by providing them with the information that will improve their understanding.

“Hopefully after the truth and justice commission [Yoo-rrook Justice Commission] has been established, one of the key things that we have to do is actually educate the broader community,” he suggests.

“We can’t expect to go from nothing to Treaty, in the eyes of the broader community, without actually taking them on a journey so when we get to that point of negotiating a Treaty, the broader community are going, ‘Well I get it. I
understand, I think this is the right thing to do”.

“What I would say is be open and be willing to listen and learn and do that with a very open mind and with the intent that we are all Australians, one way or another, and this is your history just as much as it is ours and we want to move together collectively and have a full understanding of what it is to be an Australian and how we can move in unity together into the future.”

Inaugural speech