Kaylene Williamson

Kaylene Williamson, Member for the South East region

Proud Gunai Kurnai

Kaylene Williamson was looking for a way to give back to her family when she moved back on Country in 2019.

She didn’t realise it at the time, but that calling would insert her into one of the most significant historical developments in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations since these lands were colonised.

“I wanted to give back to my community, as an educated woman with government experience, I wanted to use these skills to help my Community,” she explains.

“I moved back on Country at the same time Treaty nominations came out and I thought this timing was meant to be, this is how I can give back.”

Her place as an inaugural Member of the Assembly will now be etched in history, but for Ms Williamson, her main motivation is being able to “share her community’s voice”.

That’s been greatly tested during the Assembly’s first term though, with COVID restrictions severely limiting all Members’ ability to move among their communities.

“COVID has restricted my ability to communicate with my Community,” Ms Williamson says. “It’s also been a steep learning curve getting to learn what is a Treaty and what we could possibility make it into.

“On a personal note though it has also been wonderful to spend so much time with my two little girls and watch them grow and learn during remote learning. Don’t get me wrong, it was also very hard to hold a full-time job, work on Treaty, school my children and be a mum and a wife.”

Although the Assembly shifted its consultations online during the COVID restrictions, Ms Williamson says there’s a need for more work to be done out among the Community over the next 12 months. And her message back to the Community is to urge them to stay positive.

“Stay strong, we don’t always see change straight away, it can take time, but we will get there together,” she says.

“Reach out and ask me questions. I won’t always have an answer, but I will have an ear to listen.”

Ms Williamson sees this Treaty process leading to a brighter future for all if Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people can work together.

“We are all working towards a better Australia” she says. “If we come together, we will make great changes.”

Inaugural speech