Aboriginal voices on journey to Vic treaty

·2-min read

Aboriginal communities in Victoria are set to decide who represents them, instead of government bureaucrats, putting themselves firmly in the driver's seat.

The First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria - the democratic voice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on the journey to Treaty - on Tuesday opened an application process for Traditional Owner groups to apply for a reserved seat on the Assembly.

The Assembly had previously relied on the Victorian government's protracted process that Traditional Owner groups must undergo to gain formal recognition under legislation.

Last year members voted to determine their own additional criteria.

Assembly Co-Chair and proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung nation, Marcus Stewart, said self-determination was about empowering the Aboriginal community to organise itself and choose its own representatives.

"As the elected Assembly of First Peoples leading the way to Australia's first-ever Treaty, we want to make sure everyone's voice is heard and that our cultural ways of doing business are front and centre," Mr Stewart said.

"We're not going to be limited by colonial structures and concepts."

The Assembly has two types of seats - general and reserved.

General seats are filled by elected Members during Assembly elections and reserved seats are for representatives from each Traditional Owner group in Victoria with formal recognition under legislation.

Traditional Owner groups without that formal recognition can now apply directly to the Assembly for a reserved seat, provided they meet certain criteria.

Applications will be considered by the Assembly Chamber and can be approved by a special majority vote.

Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder and Co-Chair of the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria, Geraldine Atkinson, said it was important that the Assembly had moved beyond the parameters originally set by government.

"Treaty is about putting Aboriginal people in the driver's seat," Ms Atkinson said.

"Self-determination isn't just the destination, it's also how we get there."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting