First Peoples’ Assembly calls for Elders and discusses support for Traditional Owner groups ahead of next year’s Treaty negotiations

Nov 27, 2023

Traditional Owner Elders are being encouraged to help guide the ‘historic’ journey towards Treaty in Victoria.

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is calling Elders to nominate to be part of the Elders’ Voice – the panel of Elders from across the state that will give wisdom and cultural guidance to the Assembly on its journey to Treaty in Victoria.

The Assembly opened nominations for the Elders’ Voice standing group during its two-day meeting held last week on Bunurong Country in San Remo.

First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria Co-chair and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, Ngarra Murray, said Treaty will provide the opportunity to put decision making powers back into Aboriginal hands.

“Treaty is our chance to put Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat, so it’s important we get this right and do it in a way that embraces the strengths of our people, culture, traditions and practices,”

“We love and respect our Elders, we need their experience and wisdom to help guide the Assembly as we enter Treaty negotiations so we can achieve the freedom our people have been fighting for since colonisation.”

Ngarra Murray.

During the two-day Assembly Meeting, Members discussed the pending launch of two key pieces of Treaty-making architecture – the Self-Determination Fund to support Traditional Owner groups prepare for Treaty negotiations, and the Treaty Authority which will serve as the independent ‘umpire’ during Treaty negotiations.

Gunditjmara man and Assembly Co-Chair Rueben Berg said the Assembly is on track to enter negotiations on a statewide Treaty with the Victorian Government next year.

“Treaty will make a huge difference to the lives of Aboriginal people. It will both deliver big picture state reform and directly empower our communities to implement practical solutions at a local level,” said Mr Berg.

“It will also provide many opportunities for our cultures and languages to be shared and celebrated by everyone who now calls Victoria home,”

Rueben Berg

Assembly Members met with the recently-appointed Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalie Hutchins, who participated in a cultural exchange with the Assembly’s representative of the Bunurong people – the Traditional Owners of the area.

Last weeks meeting also featured significant Cultural elements, including Welcomes to Country from Bunurong representatives Robert Ogden and Mark Brown, performances by Bandok Tati (Small Ant Brothers) and the sharing of local culture by Steven Ulula Parker from Millowl Dreaming and Aunty Sonia Weston Hume.

Nominations for the Elders’ Voice special advisory body are now open and will close on 12 January. Positions on the body are for 12-month terms and Elders will be compensated for their time attending meetings.

Nominations are now open here.

You can watch a broadcast of Members reporting on recent activities here.