Roadmap guides way for Assembly to lead statewide Treaty negotiations before year end

Mar 31, 2023

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has declared its intent to begin Treaty negotiations with the Victorian Government before the end of the year. 

The Elected Members have released a roadmap that outlines the steps the Assembly will take between its general elections in May and the start of negotiations to ensure it is living up to the standards promised by the Treaty Negotiation Framework. 

Assembly Co-Chair and proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said that the roadmap was the embodiment of the promise the Assembly has made to the Aboriginal community. 

“We’ve been entrusted by our communities to find a path for the important and long overdue journey towards Treaty. This statement is the map that will guide the next Elected Members to complete the journey and get Treaty done. Treaty will benefit everyone who calls this state home.”

Marcus Stewart

The Treaty Negotiation Framework, a key piece of the Treaty-making architecture agreed upon by the Assembly and the Victorian Government last year, outlines the criteria both the Assembly and the Government must meet to enter negotiations about a statewide Treaty.

“A Statewide Treaty will not be a static document or a list of deliverables frozen in time. Treaty is about how we journey together. It is a living commitment to evolving and continuous agreement-making. 

Through Interim Agreements, the Assembly will progressively take back rights and decision-making power from the state and return it into the rightful hands of First Peoples.”  

— A passage from the Statement of Intention to negotiate Statewide Treaty

The statewide Treaty will tackle big, over-arching issues that affect all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria, including creating more jobs, better education and healthcare, and justice system reform. Meanwhile, Traditional Owners will be empowered to negotiate Treaties that reflect the aspirations and priorities specific to their areas. 

Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said that statewide Treaty will have the self-determination of First Peoples at its heart.  

“Treaty means genuine self-determination – the transfer of political power and decision-making power to First Peoples to make the decisions that affect our communities, lands and waters.

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson

“Our upcoming Assembly Elections are mob’s opportunity to choose who represents them in Treaty negotiations.

“We need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in this state to register with us and vote to make sure Treaty delivers on our Community’s dreams and aspirations,” Aunty Geraldine said.

The roadmap, or ‘Statement of Intention to negotiate Statewide Treaty’, details what the Assembly will do to ensure it:

  • represents and is accountable to the full diversity of First Peoples in Victoria; 
  • builds and strengthens its representative structures and processes to ensure that all First Peoples’ voices are heard;  
  • strengthens its governance and decision-making processes; and 
  • demonstrates the collective support of all Traditional Owners and First Peoples living in Victoria for Treaty outcomes.

By following the roadmap, the Assembly seeks to satisfy the Land and Waters, Community, Leadership and Inclusivity criteria for Traditional Owner groups set out in the Treaty Negotiation Framework. 

Read the roadmap here.

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