Trevor Gallagher

Trevor Gallagher, Member for the Metropolitan region

Proud Gunditjmara

Just as the work of Trevor Gallagher’s Gunditjmara ancestors at Budj Bim has stood the test of time, he wanted to stand for the Assembly to also play a key part in his people’s history.

Over a period of at least six-and-a-half-thousand years, the Gunditjmara constructed channels, weirs and dams to manage water flows to trap, store and harvest kooyang or short-finned eels at Budj Bim, the World Heritage Site.

That foresight and hard work brought long-lasting benefits for the Gunditjmara and Mr Gallagher believes the Assembly’s work can also bring positive change for generations to come.

“The Assembly has endured and the amount of work that has been completed has been nothing short of remarkable…”

“I decided to run as a candidate for the Treaty elections and was lucky enough to be elected by the people, which is a beautiful feeling, and I wanted to be part of history,” he recalls.

He hopes that during the remainder of the Assembly’s first term, more progress will be achieved for Aboriginal people in Victoria through negotiations with the government over the Treaty Negotiation Framework – the ground rules for negotiating a state-wide Treaty that will cover state-wide issues, and will also enable Traditional Owners to negotiate local Treaties for their areas.

In the future, Mr Gallagher would like to see Aboriginal people experiencing the benefits of life-changing agreements, “whether it be something in education, with more scholarships offered to all kids in school, or something for the Stolen Generations – not much to ask”.

He says the Assembly has done an amazing job to achieve what it has so far, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Assembly has endured and the amount of work that has been completed has been nothing short of remarkable,” Mr Gallagher states.

He has two other simple messages. To the Aboriginal community he says, “Stay true to the Treaty cause” and to the non-Aboriginal community, “We need you and we are all in this together”.

Inaugural speech