First Peoples leaders to address Victorian Parliament on historic Treaty ‘umpire’ legislation

Jul 1, 2022

The Victorian Parliament will today put its usual business on hold to hear from the Co-Chairs of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria who will urge all Parliamentarians to pass the legislation to enable the establishment of the Treaty Authority – the independent umpire that will oversee Treaty negotiations.

The Co-Chairs will be accompanied onto the floor of Parliament by Members of the First Peoples’ Assembly – the democratic voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the journey to Treaty.

Assembly Co-Chair and proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said he hoped all Members of Parliament will respect and listen to the democratic voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria by giving the Treaty Authority agreement their blessing.

“The journey to Treaty needs to be guided by First Peoples. This agreement we’ve reached with the Government reflects what our people want – it’s an umpire that they can trust because it will be led by First Peoples, be grounded in our culture, lore and law and be completely independent from government,” said Mr Stewart.

The Opposition yesterday announced it will be supporting the Bill, but at least one if its members is threatening to cross the floor and vote against the historic legislation.

The agreement signed two weeks ago between the Assembly and the Government will create an Authority that sits outside of the usual state bureaucracy, but the legislation is required to facilitate its operation. For example, the ability to hire staff, lease an office and receive funding.

Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said Aboriginal people had been let down and betrayed by the colonial system on too many occasions.

“First Peoples in Victoria are in the process of making history. I have been encouraged hearing politicians from across the political spectrum express support for a Treaty ‘umpire’ that will be truly independent from Government and led by First Peoples. This legislation is an opportunity for all Parliamentarians to show they are willing to walk with us on the journey to Treaty,” said Aunty Geraldine.

Media Resources

  • Broadcast quality footage of the speeches to Parliament will be available here
  • Broadcast video b-reel/overlay footage from the ceremonial event is here
  • Photos from the ceremonial signing with Premier Dan Andrews in Lorne are here
  • A commemorative video of the occasion can be found here
  • Video footage of the full speeches at the ceremonial signing is here
  • A copy of the agreement can be found here
  • An info sheet about the Treaty Authority can be found here