Jamie Lowe

Jamie Lowe, Reserved Seat holder representing Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation

Proud Gunditjmara

Jamie Lowe feels the weight of the work he and his fellow Members of the Assembly are undertaking.

“It’s been exciting,” he says. “We’re the First Peoples’ Assembly and we’re doing something that’s a first within Australia so there’s a bit of weight to bear with that, but it’s an exciting process at the same time, so speaking to our people about it, they’re excited, but also cautious.”

Mr Lowe says Aboriginal people always approach negotiations with government with a level of skepticism, but he thinks the Assembly’s first term is laying a foundation for real progress in the future.

“We’re doing business with the government so we’re always cautious when we’re doing that, so it’s important to keep perspective there, but we’re looking forward to what the future can bring to our people.

“I think the next 12 months is going to be a critical time. I think we’ve got to reach some thresholds with some of the substantive pieces around the Treaty Negotiation Framework, the Elders’ Voice, other critical processes like truth-telling will begin as well.

“Then I guess, in our last 12 months, we’ll be setting the scene for the next Members of the Assembly so we need to lay a strong foundation for them and a strong foundation for our Community to negotiate Treaties into the future so I think the heavy li£ing will happen over the next 12 months to set that up.”

Mr Lowe says he’s proud of the way Members have reacted to the challenges of the COVID-19 restrictions and their determination to continue the Assembly’s work.

“It’s been challenging, but it’s positive to see the mob step up and use the other platforms to talk to their people and consult and have yarns,” Mr Lowe says.

Mr Lowe wants the Aboriginal community to know that the Assembly is listening to them when undertaking its work.

“We’re hearing you, we’re listening to you and we’ve taken on this task and know the magnitude of it so we get it,” he says.

And to the non-Aboriginal community, he says be open to learning something you didn’t know before.

“Hopefully you can engage in the truth-telling process, which is going to be critical to understanding the history of this place. The good and the bad stories, because there’s both and I think it’s a critical foundation piece for knowing the inherent rights of our First Nations people.”

Inaugural speech