The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian Government have reached a landmark agreement on a framework that will enable Traditional Owners of Country to negotiate Treaties across the state, and for the Assembly – as the democratic voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria – to negotiate a state-wide Treaty to deliver structural reform.
Elected Members of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria today gathered with representatives of the Victorian Government on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country by the Yarra River in Fairfield for a ceremony to mark and celebrate the history-making agreement.
Assembly Co-Chair, Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said Treaty-making was a chance to make Victoria a better and fairer place for everyone by ensuring respect is at the heart of the relationship between First Peoples and newer Australians.
“We all want to get on with creating a better future together as equals, but to do that, we need Treaty to help us rebalance the relationship and we need to eliminate the unfair burden that Aboriginal people have been carrying since invasion. Now, with this agreement, we have a clear pathway forward. I couldn’t be happier,” said Aunty Geraldine.
Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said the key to improving lives and strengthening culture was ensuring First Peoples have the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect First Peoples’ communities, culture and land.
“Today marks the beginning of a new and fairer chapter for this state’s history. Colonisation saw our freedom, dignity and agency stripped from us. We were driven from our lands, had our families ripped apart and every aspect of our lives – where we could live, who we could marry – was controlled by the State. This agreement puts the power back into Aboriginal hands so that we can decide how we want to do things and how to get Treaty done,” said Mr Stewart.
The Treaty Negotiation Framework sets out the principles that will guide Treaty-making in Victoria and provides Traditional Owner groups with the ability to choose their own pathways and timelines for negotiating Treaties that reflect their particular priorities and aspirations.
It explains the criteria and standards that groups need to meet if they want to enter Treaty negotiations and how they can be supported – with resourcing from the Self-Determination Fund and guidance from the Treaty Authority – to enter negotiations on more equal footing with the Government.
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