Peter Hood, Member for the South East region
Proud Kurnai man with connections to Yorta Yorta, Bangerang, Taungurung and Wurundjeri
It was a visit to New Zealand that introduced Peter Hood to the concept of Treaty and it was a concept that stuck.
“I had an interest in Treaty because I’d done a lot of work with kids and I was sent to New Zealand for an exchange with politicians,” he recalls.
“I met the NZ prime minister Helen Clark and she mentioned the Waitangi Treaty to me at the time and I read about it some more.
“The Maori and Koori culture are very similar, family oriented. That got me interested in Treaty, and in ATSIC days they were talking Treaty, so when the state government started talking about it I wanted to be involved.
“I think it’s momentous. It’s not just going to benefit blackfellas, it’s going to help all if we bridge this gap in misunderstanding.”
Mr Hood says the first term of the Assembly has given him a whole new education.
“Like going back to school. It’s still a schooling thing. I’m still learning,” he says.
“The COVID thing came at a really bad time, but we still got a lot done with what was put in front of us.”
One line of Assembly work, in particular, has resonated with Mr Hood, the Assembly’s truth-telling campaign that led to the Government establishing the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission to investigate past wrongs committed against Aboriginal people in Victoria.
“It was a personal thing for me. They’re talking about truth-telling and I’ve got stories I want to share about my father and his family. My grandmother being removed from the mission because she was too white, but didn’t fit in because she wasn’t white enough. The younger generations need to hear this. I can tell my story, but I know my story isn’t the only one out there.”
Mr Hood is urging all Aboriginal people to get behind the Treaty process by being as constructive as possible.
“Walk with us and always be constructive,” he urges. “If there’s things to criticise, criticise, but be constructive with it.”
And, like he’s learnt so much during this first term of the Assembly, he’s urging people from the broader general public to also be prepared to learn.
“Come in with open minds. Be open minded and come in with the ideal of wanting to learn, being willing to be educated. You can listen here and then you can choose what to do with it.”