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Victorian Parliament passes ‘historic’ treaty legislation

Indigenous authority will act as an independent umpire to oversee treaty negotiations with the Victorian government.

user iconJess Feyder 19 August 2022 Politics
Victorian Parliament passes ‘historic’ treaty legislation
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The establishment of the Treaty Authority has meant stepping outside of the colonial system and putting First Peoples’ lore, law and cultural authority at the heart of the journey to a treaty, said Marcus Stewart, co-chair of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria (FPAV) and Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation.

The authority will be made up of five Aboriginal leaders and will have ongoing funding. It will receive $40.2 million in funding over the next three years.

In the coming months, the assembly and the Victorian government will seek to reach an agreement on the “Treaty Negotiation Framework”, which will set the ground rules and process for treaty negotiations. 

 
 

The agreement reached between the First Peoples’ Assembly and the government of Victoria established the Treaty Authority outside of the usual state bureaucracy; it won’t report to a minister, its funding is insulated from the whims of political cycles, and it will be led entirely by First Peoples.  

“This is another huge step forward and one that mob all around the country can take inspiration from. With the assembly our people have a voice. 

“We already have truth-telling underway and now [a] treaty is very much within reach,” said Mr Stewart. 

A “Self Determination Fund” is under consideration, in order to ensure that traditional owners can enter negotiations on a more level playing field, and First Peoples communities can create wealth and prosperity for future generations. 

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (FPAV) noted that this is the first independent umpire established in Australia to oversee treaty negotiations.

The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the institution of Indigenous Authority showed “how far we’ve come”.

FPAV co-chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson said it was encouraging to see the public and politicians willing to have the hard conversations and finally make space to listen to the needs and hopes of First Peoples. 

“When people tell me this sounds like a very different way of doing things, I think good! Treaty needs to be done on our terms, because our people need to have faith in the path forward. 

“We’ve been let down too many times before, but now there is real sense of hope growing. Hope that this country is ready to reckon with the past and make amends so we can create a better future together,” said Aunty Geraldine

Aunty Geraldine said that the treaty needs to both respect and uphold First Peoples’ culture and correct the economic disadvantage inflicted by dispossession. 

“This generation has the opportunity to right past wrongs by making sure the future is one we can be proud of. 

“We have here in this place we all call home, the oldest living culture in the world.

“It’s beautiful and we want to share and celebrate it with everyone. All we ask in return is that we regain the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect our lives and our land,” said Aunty Geraldine