Wamba Wemba to take up new seat in the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria

Mar 21, 2024

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has voted to create a new reserved seat for representatives of the Wamba Wamba/Wemba Wemba peoples, Traditional Owners of Country in north-west Victoria.

Chairperson of the Wamba Wemba Aboriginal Corporation and Wamba Wemba woman, Lowana Moore, said it was a historic moment and the group had worked hard to demonstrate it met the Assembly’s criteria to sit alongside other recognised Aboriginal parties.

“The decision will give hope and paves the way for other Traditional Owner Groups that are not recognised by the State. It’s due recognition of the hard work of our Elders,” Ms Moore said.

Wamba Wemba Aboriginal Corporation will be the first Traditional Owner Group without recognition under Government legislation to have a reserved seat in the Assembly.

Assembly Co-chair, Gunditjmara man Rueben Berg, said it was important that the journey to Treaty wasn’t confined by the limitations of government systems and colonial legacies.

“The Assembly created the additional pathway to recognition so mob can decide who is who and how we organise ourselves. It’s fantastic to see it working and we’re really thrilled to be celebrating Wamba Wemba’s inclusion in the Assembly with a new reserved seat,” said Mr Berg.

Wamba Wemba’s new seat will bring the number of seats in the Assembly to 33, with 22 seats elected by communities in particular regions and the remaining 11 elected by Traditional Owner Groups. Wamba Wemba Aboriginal Corporation are expected to appoint their representative in time for the Assembly’s June meeting ahead of the first round of Treaty negotiations with the Government.

Assembly Co-chair and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, Ngarra Murray, said Treaty was all about making sure Aboriginal communities have the power and tools to develop and deliver practical solutions at a local level.

“All First Peoples from or in Victoria are welcome to be part of this journey, we want to be as inclusive as possible and draw on our diverse strengths and collective wisdom. Treaty is about empowering our communities from the ground up,” said Ms Murray.

Next month, the Assembly will host a large Statewide Gathering of the clans in Geelong to continue to gather community input and feedback on the priorities that will be taken into the first round of Treaty negotiations with the Government.

The four key topics that discussions are likely to focus on are:

  • A process and timetable for transferring decision-making powers from Government to First Peoples.
  • How key recommendations from the Yoorrook Justice Commission’s truth-telling process should be implemented.
  • Expanding the Assembly’s roles and responsibilities so it can also provide advice to government and ensure accountability.
  • Ways to properly respect and celebrate First Peoples’ cultures and languages.

Further information

The following description of Country identifies the geographic area of the reserved seat:

“Areas around Wycheproof, Birchip, Direl, Swan Hill, Lake Boga, Kerang to Barham to Moulamein to Denilquin to Booraban. Our waters include the Murray River, Loddon River, Tyrrell Creek, to the Kerang Reedy Lakes, Middle Lake, Third Lake, Long Lake, Pelican Lake, Kangaroo Lake, Lake Charm, Lake Bael Bael, Lake Tutchewop, Choroume Lake, Lake Mannoer, and Lake Boga.”

Photo credit: First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria / Leroy Miller