Troy McDonald, Reserved Seat holder representing Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation
Troy McDonald has been working across Victorian Aboriginal Affairs for 30 years, and now he’s calling on all that vast experience as a board member for the Assembly.
Currently, and for the past two years, Mr McDonald has been Chairperson of the Gunai Kurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, a Traditional Owner nation with settlement over large parts of Gippsland. Among the organisation’s roles have been improving environmental outcomes by participating in a co-design process to weave cultural burning into the state wide fire mitigation strategy and working to secure a water entitlement from the state.
Then there is his past experience with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning helping to shape Victoria’s water reform policy agenda to recognise and manage Aboriginal values.
In 2012 he completed studies with Flinders University in public sector management and is currently completing an MBA with Federation University Australia.
Now, as GLAWAC’s reserved seat holder, Mr McDonald is helping the Assembly establish the architecture for a Treaty between the First Nations people and the Victorian Government. Along with fellow Assembly Member Melissa Jones, he Co-Chaired the committee that did the groundwork to establish the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.
He’s been around long enough to understand skepticism of the Treaty process from some in the Aboriginal Community, but urges them to have confidence that, where other initiatives might have failed, Treaty will bring positive reforms.
“The message I want to give to them is stick with us,” he says. “This is ground-breaking, innovative, nation-building work and we’re all very mindful about the presence the First Peoples’ Assembly has across Victoria and across the nation, and I’m doing my best to represent my people in a strong, authentic way in terms of the Treaty conversations.”
Mr McDonald says he’s taken some great positives out of the Assembly’s first term so far and is upbeat about what will be achieved over the next 12 months.
“I think we’d like to see us have a really good foundation and move into an authority and really start working on some of the key concepts on what a state-wide Treaty might look like,” he explains.
“But also, make sure the environment’s really fertile, where the Aboriginal Community is really quite confident to come and talk about what their aspirations are right now.”