We are thrilled to share that today, Treaty is finally within reach.
We have just signed a historic agreement with the Victorian Government that sets in place the framework and ground rules for Treaty, providing the final pieces of architecture needed for Treaty-making.
The stage is set for Treaty negotiations to begin as early as next year.
This landmark agreement is the culmination of all of our work and everything we’ve heard from Community during our very first term as the Assembly, and we are beyond proud of the results.
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. It will see Government take a back seat as we decide how we want to get Treaty done, and what we want it to deliver.
The Treaty Negotiation Framework sets out the principles that will guide Treaty-making in Victoria. It recognises our Lore, law and cultural authority, and provides Traditional Owner groups with the ability to choose their own pathways and timelines for negotiating Treaties that reflect their priorities, needs 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.
It will also see the Assembly, following our next elections, negotiate a state-wide Treaty that will deliver bold structural change, improving the lives of our people and ensuring we always have a strong voice and decision-making power.
Think of how long our people have been calling for this, and here we are. Treaty finally within reach.
Today marks the beginning of a new and fairer chapter for this state’s history.
We all want to get on with building a better future for generations to come. Treaty is our chance to do exactly that.
Treaty will ensure that First Peoples always have a powerful voice and that we have the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect our communities, our culture and our Country.
Thanks for walking with us.
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson is a Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder and Marcus Stewart is a proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation. They are the Co-chairs of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
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