Victoria’s Treaty Assembly elects new leadership

Jul 28, 2023

Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman Ngarra Murray and Gunditjmara man Rueben Berg were elected as Co-Chairs for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria at the first meeting of the Assembly’s second term today.

The Assembly is the elected ‘voice’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria and this term its Members will negotiate a statewide Treaty with the Victorian Government.

Ms Murray was re-elected to the Assembly and is a community development and human rights expert. Ms Murray has led Oxfam Australia’s First Peoples programs for the last decade.

Ms Murray thanked the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have already gotten involved in the journey to Treaty, including by enrolling and voting in the recent Treaty Elections.

“History shows that real change comes from the people. Whether we’re realising our rights, fighting racism, or standing up for our Country, it is everyday people who are the original drivers of change. People like us,” Ms Murray said.

“We must make sure that Treaty respects our rights, dignity, and sovereignty as First Peoples, and leads to a healed and healthy country for all of us.”

Mr Berg is also returning to the Assembly for its second term. Mr Berg is a trained architect and was previously a Commissioner for the Victorian Environment Water Holder and a member of the Heritage Council of Victoria. 

Mr Berg said that in his view Treaty is a journey, not a destination.

“The journey to Treaty will empower us as First Peoples to make decisions about our lives, our communities, our lands and our waters,” Mr Berg said.

“This is a turning point for our people, our state and our nation. Treaty will lead to a better future for our mob, one where we can go from surviving to thriving. And it will lead to a better future for all Victorians, where our remarkable cultures and languages are embraced, celebrated and embedded into everyday life.”

Both Co-Chairs thanked Members for entrusting them with their roles.

The Assembly also elected their Council board of Directors. The Council provides direction for the Assembly’s work and sets the agenda for Assembly meetings. The Council Members are:

  • Alice Pepper (Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Gunditjmara and Arrernte)
  • Alister Thorpe (Gunai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung)
  • Barry Firebrace-Briggs (Yorta Yorta, Ulupna)
  • Aunty Esme Bamblett (Bangerang, Taungurung and Wiradjuri)
  • Nerita Waight (Yorta Yorta and Narrandjeri)
  • Peter Hood (Kurnai)
  • Troy McDonald (Gunaikurnai)

Day two of the Assembly Meeting saw the election of new Elders’ Voice Co-Chairs – Aunty Esme Bamblett (Bangerang, Taungurung and Wiradjuri) and Rodney Carter (Dja Dja Wurrung) – and Youth Voice convenors, Alice Pepper (Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Gunditjmara and Arrernte) and Jordan Edwards (Gunditjmara, Waddawurrung and Arrernte).

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