Faces of the Federation

Joseph Saunders.jpg

5-minute coffee break with…

Federation Treaty Engagement Officer - Joseph Saunders.

When did you join the Federation?

I’ve been working at the Federation since May.

Do you want to tell us a bit about your background?

Mum - Julia Mongta (Monero/Gunai)

Lived in – Orbost / Cann River 

Dad – Ken Saunders (Gunditjmara)

Lived in – Heywood – Lake Condah Mission 

Most of my life I’ve lived on both side of my parent’s country, we lived in Melbourne on the northern suburbs of reservoir and Preston and then we moved Gippsland to live in Bairnsdale and Cann-River and then back to Melbourne then moved to Heywood to live there, we didn’t move after that.

Most of my work has been in Heywood started out as a project fire fighter with DELWP, then moved on to be field officer with PV in Portland and at Albert Park was there for a few years, then moved back to Heywood and worked with Gunditj Mirring as an Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Officer.   

Can you explain what you do as a Treaty Engagement Officer? What does a typical day look like for you?

Our region is the Melbourne Metro; our main goal is to help the mob to understand the importance to enrol and to help them understand what treaty is all about as well.

A normal day would be getting out to a gathering place and having a simple yarn about and helping mob on the day to enrol.

-What is a treaty? (first peoples assembly of Victoria, Governance and facts)
-What a treaty can do for a community gathering place or Orgs.
-What a treaty could do for you and the next generation.

I know your work focuses heavily on the advancement of a Treaty for Victoria. Tell me, what do you think a Treaty can offer Aboriginal people?

A treaty for me is a new starting point of discussions with the Government and telling them that there is no one better that knows the truth about what goes on in our community and what we want to better ourselves as the First Nations People of Victoria and Australia.

That truth telling starts with the First Peoples Assembly and that’s our strongest warriors that we vote for that represents me the best that will carry my voice to the government on what will be my voice and what should be a Treaty for my part of the region and my country.


When I think about a Treaty, I think about language learnt in every school in Victoria. Aboriginal retirement age lowered. Funds for Aboriginal communities so they can buy businesses in their area so we can employ our family and mob. Subsidised training so our mob can be employed to run the business – the sky’s the limit!


A treaty can be anything it’s about voicing what you think will help you, your family and your grand-kids for a better life.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

 Get out to communities, gathering place and orgs and making that connection with people and family members that I’ve never met.

Any parting comments?

Enrol so that you can have a voice or Nominate so that you can be a voice for your friends, family and community.

Our enrolment page is www.firstpeoplesvic.org/enrol/

Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations
PO Box 431, North Melbourne VIC 3051
t: (03) 9321 5300 |
Website: www.fvtoc.com.au

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we work on as the First People of this country.