Andrew Gardiner

Andrew Gardiner, Reserved Seat holder representing Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation

Proud Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung

For Uncle Andrew Gardiner, the Treaty process must ensure nobody is left behind.

“At the end of the day, we’ve all worked through things to get a positive platform, but it’s our responsibility to get that moving and to communicate all these things to communities and get that feedback and start pushing that forward as well,” he explains.

“We can’t do that on our own and it’s a collective thing and we shouldn’t be leaving anybody behind and one of the strong conversations during the first 12 months was that not all Traditional Owners were represented and they should be included so how do we go about doing that?

“How do we engage and ensure those representatives can be facilitated? I think there’s a process there now we’re undertaking to try and get that in.”

He’s referring to the Assembly’s consideration of alternative pathways to recognition that Traditional Owner groups not already represented on the Assembly might be able to take to be recognised with a seat. It’s just one of the tasks the Assembly has been working on to ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria can be part of the Treaty process.

Uncle Andrew, who, along with Aunty Charmaine Clarke, is also Co-Chair of the Interim Elders’ Voice, says the Assembly is now in a period of consolidation and achievement.

“We need to make sure the Framework is all in place so that it can be signed off before the next election hopefully,” he suggests.

He says the government has invited Aboriginal people in Victoria to use their voice to say what they want and need in Treaty and the Community must respond.

“The Government has already said they’re prepared to listen so we need to tell them,” he says.

“Let them know exactly where our position is and how we can best negotiate a positive outcome for everybody.

“Peace, unity, come up with ideas, participate. Give us the tools, the information to drive what’s necessary to create Treaty that we can all negotiate for. If we don’t have anything and we don’t have anything in place, we don’t have any ideas. We’re not going to be able to negotiate anything, we’re going to be on the back foot. We need to be on the front foot.”

Inaugural speech