Uncle Michael ‘Mookeye’ Bell, Member for the South West region
Michael Mookeye Bell’s Mother’s Country is Gunditjmara Country in South-West Victoria.
The Gunditjmara were among the First People to be confronted by the invading settlers back in the 1830s and some of the hardest hit with some of Australia’s worst massacres of the Frontier Wars taking place on their land.
They fought for their land and culture, and too often died defending it.
There’s still cause to fight, but Uncle Mookeye is taking up the struggle for his people as a Member on the Assembly and by advancing the Treaty process.
“I support the establishment of the Treaty Process and connections to many communities across the South-West Region gave me the confidence to run for the Assembly,” he says, adding that he’s enjoyed serving on committees and appreciates the work of the other committees.
Uncle Mookeye encourages the Aboriginal Community to “have confidence in the Assembly” as “each Member of the Assembly is contributing their cultural understanding to the meeting and forums to ensure our work is Aboriginal-led”.
“The work that has been completed provides a strong foundation towards a great understanding of the Treaty Negotiation Framework and Treaty Authority and I believe the Assembly is in a strong position to empower more of our communities to participate in the Treaty discussions and developments.”
Uncle Mookeye says support from the wider community will also be crucial for the success of the Treaty process, but warns there’ll be some adjustment needed by the broader public.
“Victoria has never had a Treaty,” he says. “The support of non-Aboriginal People is significant for the Treaty process, but also remember that we’ve never had a Treaty and so we have to bring the non-Aboriginal community
along with us.”