Self-determination is about empowering the Aboriginal community to organise itself and choose its own representatives.
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria – the democratic voice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community – has an open process for Traditional Owner groups to apply for a reserved seat on the Assembly.
The Assembly has two types of seats – general and reserved. General seats are filled by elected Members during Assembly elections and reserved seats are for representatives from Traditional Owner groups.
The Assembly had previously relied on the Government’s protracted process that Traditional Owner groups must undergo to gain formal recognition under state legislation, but earlier this year Assembly Members determined the Assembly’s own additional criteria for recognising Traditional Owner groups.
We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and that our cultural ways of doing business are front and centre. We’re not going to be limited by colonial structures and concepts.
Traditional Owner groups without that formal recognition can now apply directly to the Assembly for a reserved seat, provided they meet certain criteria.
New application for a reserved seat on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is inviting interested parties to comment on an application for an additional reserved seat application by the Wamba Wemba Peoples in the north west of Victoria. This may include making an objection to the application.
Interested parties are asked to provide their comments in writing by 23 November 2022 to the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Assembly) care of firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the application, interested parties can contact email@example.com.
Please also refer to the Guidelines for Objections for further information.
Details of Additional Reserved Seat Application
Wamba Wemba Peoples
The application area covers an area with a boundary from North of Swan Hill, South-East along the Murray River to Koondrook, then West to Birchip (via South of Kerang) before heading North to Lake Tyrrell and back east to Swan Hill via Tyrrell Downs and Chillingollah. Please see the map at the end of this notice for a more exact picture of the application area.
Nature of Application
The additional pathway for a reserved seat requires the applicant group to demonstrate they meet the ‘Additional Traditional Owner Group Criteria’ adopted by the Assembly Chamber under the expanded definition of ‘Traditional Owner Group’ in the Assembly’s constitution.
The Additional Traditional Owner Group Criteria cover four categories:
- The group’s application area is not represented in whole or in part by an existing reserved seat on the Assembly
- The group’s application to become a Traditional Owner Group has significant support amongst Traditional Owners for the area
- The group is an established group or nation
- The group has an ongoing connection to Country
Consequences of possible decision to grant new reserved seat
A decision to grant or refuse a new reserved seat is made by the whole Assembly Chamber, taking into account all available facts, including evidence given by applicants and relevant information raised by interested parties, including objections.
If a group is granted a reserved seat, they can appoint a representative to sit on the Assembly as an Assembly Member under the Assembly’s Appointment Rules. That person would be the reserved seat holder representing the Wamba Wemba Peoples as the new Traditional Owner Group holding a reserved seat in the Assembly. As a Reserved Member, that person would have the same rights as all other Assembly Members.
The Reserved Member would consult with the Traditional Owner Group that selected them and may exercise their powers in a way they consider to be in the interests of the Assembly so as to preserve and advance the interests of all First Peoples in Victoria.
All interested parties should be aware:
- Having a reserved seat in the Assembly does not change a group’s status under legislation.
- Having a reserved seat in the Assembly does not give a group any rights to negotiate a Treaty.
- A reserved seat granted using this process will be cancelled if another Traditional Owner Group is formally recognised under legislation over all or part of the same application area.
- A reserved seat granted cannot impact any rights of existing reserved seat holders.
Requirements for an objection
An objection must:
- give the reasons for the objection and
- explain how a decision by the Assembly to grant a new reserved seat to the applicant group would have a negative impact on you.
This information may be shared, in summary form, with the applicant group for the purpose of preparing a response to your objection.
We will not take into account any parts of your objection that are defamatory, offensive, trivial or vexatious.
Cultural safety is paramount and lateral violence will not be tolerated.
Objecting parties will not have access to the full details and evidence submitted in support of an application.
You will have until 23 November 2022 to submit an objection.
How can objections be made?
You can submit an objection in written form by email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be given the opportunity to attend a face-to-face meeting to explain the objection.