Assembly Board Communique 29 January 2021

Communique to Community: Update from the Board

This communique is a summary of the meeting of the First Peoples’ Assembly Board held on Friday 29 January 2021.

Due to the existence of the COVID-19 virus and the associated restrictions, Assembly Board members met both in person and via video link. The meeting was chaired by Co-Chair Geraldine Atkinson.

The Chair acknowledged the various Aboriginal lands that the Board was meeting on and paid respect to Elders past present and emerging. As is customary, a minutes silence was held for any Sorry Business in our Communities. The Chair also noted what a challenging week it had been for everyone with Invasion Day. The Chair noted that Invasion Day is another reminder of why the Assembly continues on the path to Treaty and Truth-Telling.

Co-Chairs Report

A report of the Co-Chairs’ work since the December Chamber meeting was provided to the Board, this tracked outcomes across nine performance areas along with numerous media events.

Co-Chair Marcus Stewart updated the Board on upcoming meetings with the Minister and noted that the Assembly and State had now signed the MOU for the Interim Dispute Resolution Process, which is the first piece of Treaty architecture under the Act. Marcus noted that arrangements to mark this milestone would be communicated to Members shortly.

CEO Report

Andy Gargett tabled the CEO’s report and updated the Board verbally on the following items.

Engagement and Communications – The teams are continually developing Assembly engagement and communications products to better support Members to consult with their communities, a range of materials have been published and distributed. The Engagement team are currently working through an engagement schedule for 2021 which will be provided to Members.

Policy – The team is focussed on continuing to support the Assembly in negotiations with the State on the Treaty-related elements along with working through the development of advice for the Co-Chairs, Board and Members on the foundational elements of the Truth-Telling body.

Business services – The search for new, fit for purpose office accommodation has been successful with a lease to be signed at a site in Collingwood. The Board were briefed on the development of the Aboriginal Leadership and Workforce Development Strategy across the operations, noting that this would be provided to the Board once finalised. Andy also noted the Assembly is trading solvently.

Governance – A professional development programme was agreed to by the Board, this also encompasses sessions with the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute for Members.


The Board approved the allocations for the new budget. The CEO will now operationalise the budget which has been earmarked to provide better support for Members and strengthen the Assembly’s regional presence.

February Assembly Chamber

The Board approved the following items for Chamber consideration and approval at the upcoming February Chamber:

  • The Terms of Reference and selection process for Commissioners for a Truth-telling process
  • Proposed increase to Members stipends
  • Restructure of Committees

Updates from Committee Chairs

Treaty Authority Committee – Interim Committee Chair Marcus Stewart noted that work is continuing to finalise the probity checks on mediators and conciliators so that the interim dispute resolution process that has been agreed with the State can become operational. Work is also continuing to finalise the Code of Conduct and the Assembly’s internal process for initiating a dispute. A Committee meeting will be scheduled for late February with a view to progressing these outstanding items to the 1 April Chamber meeting. The next phase of the development of the Treaty Authority is linked with the Treaty Negotiation Framework and will be considered alongside that work.

Treaty Negotiation Framework Committee – Committee Chair Jamie Lowe noted he and the Assembly Co-Chairs attended a presentation by the State negotiators on the State’s research on the Treaty Negotiation Framework to date. The Treaty Negotiation Framework Committee is working to explore options and set aspirations, particularly in relation to state-wide political and institutional reforms. The Committee is meeting in February to commence this work, which will continue in workshops at the February and April Chamber meetings and through community engagement over the coming months. The Committee will receive and consider an outline of Victorian laws that enshrine UNDRIP rights.

Self Determination Fund Committee – Committee Chair Troy McDonald updated the Board that at the last Committee meeting in October 2020, it was decided in principle that the Assembly should hold the Self Determination Fund in a trust. The December Chamber endorsed this approach. Troy noted that himself and Assembly staff met with representatives from Allens and Deloittes to progress work on developing a stronger understanding of trust structures and considerations around modelling to inform the Fund quantum. This work will inform community consultations. The work of the Fund is linked with the Treaty Negotiation Framework and will be considered alongside that work.

Cultural Governance Committee – Marcus Stewart updated the Board on behalf of Committee Chair Trent Nelson. Marcus noted that at its last meeting the Committee endorsed a draft model for additional pathways to assembly reserved seating to go to community for consultation. Once we receive feedback from community on this model the Committee will make a proposal for consideration by the April Chamber. Members discussed initial planning and design of workshops on constitutional reform. Marcus also noted that the Committee has considered the use of language within the Assembly and the importance of using our language to name components of the Assembly and our work. An email has been circulated requesting Members provide input.

Elders Voice Committee – Committee Chair, Tracey Evans noted the upcoming Committee meeting on 15 February to consider the final Elders’ Voice Model, which is proposed to be taken to the April Chamber for endorsement.

Audit and Risk Committee – Outgoing interim Committee Chair Troy McDonald noted as approved by the Board today the proposal to increase stipends for Members would now be provided to the February Chamber for endorsement.

Communique PDF Version

To download the PDF version of this communique, click here.