Geraldine Atkinson

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Member for the North East region

Proud Bangerang and Wiradjuri

That’s the message Assembly Co-Chair Aunty Geraldine Atkinson is sending to the wider Victorian community.

“Engage with the Aboriginal community, particularly in relation to the path to Treaty.”

Aunty Geraldine and Marcus Stewart were elected as the Assembly’s first Co-Chairs during its first Chamber in state parliament house in December 2019.

“I wanted to ensure that the next generation has the same outcomes and opportunities as the rest of the community,” she says. “These are big aspirations, but I know being involved in the Treaty process will help take big steps towards this dream.”

Aunty Geraldine believes Treaty will provide a pathway for Aboriginal people to secure the freedom and power to make the decisions that matter to community.

“This is our chance for meaningful structural reforms. Treaty is about truth, respect, equality and making Victoria a fairer place for everyone,” explains Aunty Geraldine. To that end, she says the Aboriginal Community must continue to help the Assembly push the Treaty process forward.

“Stay engaged with the work of the Assembly and the Treaty process,” she says. “We will meet the targets. It’s hard work, but it’s worth staying the course. Maintain the faith.”

The next 12 months, Aunty Geraldine says, will see significant progress on some of the Assembly’s key responsibilities.

“We’ll continue to build on the work that we have started, hopefully completing the things like the Treaty Authority and Treaty Negotiating Framework,” she says.

“We’ve faced challenges we never thought we’d face – like a global pandemic – but it’s also been really fruitful. We adjusted the way we do business and we have achieved so much.”

Aunty Geraldine is also enjoying the opportunities the journey to Treaty is providing to share Aboriginal culture with the wider community.

“Ours is the oldest culture in the world, it’s wonderful, and it’s something I want everyone to be able to share and celebrate with us.”

Inaugural speech