In April 2016, the Victorian Government began consultations with Aboriginal Victorians at community forums around the state focused on self-determination and Treaty. Since that time there have been further consultations, gatherings and meetings, a working group and community assembly convened, and a final report handed to the government about the need for an Aboriginal Representative Body that is independent of parliament, and which can negotiate the framework and rules for a Treaty in Victoria. While parts of the consultation process have undoubtedly had their flaws, we cannot discount the fact that the Victorian government has continued to work in good faith towards a Treaty with it's First Peoples, a strong and proud people, who have never ceded their sovereignty. It is worth noting the tireless contribution and hard work of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group which was formed in July 2016 and includes:
Bonnie Chew and Rodney Carter nominated by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council
Janine Coombs and Jamie Lowe nominated by the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations
Indi Clarke and Jordan Edwards nominated by The Koorie Youth Council
Muriel Bamblett and Wayne Muir nominated by the Aboriginal Executive Council
They are joined by the following people appointed by the Minister based on their personal experience and expertise:
Dan Turnbull (Co-Chair)
Eleanor Bourke (Co-Chair)
Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin
As of 1st August 2018 when the Advancing The Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians bill was made into law in the Victorian Parliament, Victoria is now at the forefront of Treaty negotiations in Australia.
This bill does not legislate the outcomes of treaty, nor who a Treaty can be made with, it is simply a stake in the ground that holds a future government accountable to the process and requires that the Aboriginal Representative Body (ARB) is formed.
With a deficit of leadership from the Federal and State coalition governments on this issue, all eyes are now on Victoria as we continue the long road towards Treaty.
In February 2018, Jill Gallagher AO was appointed as Victoria's Inaugural Treaty Commissioner and leads the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission. Jill is a Gunditjmara woman who has dedicated to her life to advocating for Aboriginal Victorians. Her role over the 18 months to Mid 2019 is to continue to engage the Aboriginal Victorian community and form the ARB.
The Federation will also be involved in engaging Victorian Traditional Owners through a series of Talking Treaty meetings that will commence in August 2018. See our Talking Treaty events page for details of upcoming meetings in your area.
In September 2018 The Treaty Advancement Commission held an Elders Forum and a Statewide Gathering to present their proposed model for the Aboriginal Representative Body. You can watch a short video about the model here, download the detailed 12 page Booklet on the model here and give your feedback through a webform or document upload here.
The Government is also offering grants for Traditional Owner groups and Aboriginal businesses and organisations to conduct their own engagement around Treaty. There are small grants for up to $10,000 for Treaty Circles or larger grants for up to $100,000. More info and application forms including organisations that have received funding can be found here.