Victoria takes a step closer to state treaty

An Aboriginal community assembly is to be set up in Victoria to help clear the way for a state treaty.

Co-chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group Mick Harding said the 30-strong assembly would be comprised of people from all walks of Victorian Aboriginal life.

He said the assembly’s job would be to tackle some of the remaining questions surrounding the setting up of a representative body.

“It will be around the issues of the rep body,” Mr Harding said. “Who can vote, how they can vote … so around all the things we’ve already talked about but we don’t think we’re quite there yet.

“They are the broader questions and they need to be drilled into a bit further so we can define it a bit better.

“By defining it a bit better we can communicate back the outcomes.”

Mr Harding said people would soon be able to nominate for positions on the assembly.

The move came as the Victorian Government announced new funding to advance negotiations between Aboriginal Victorians and the Victorian Government.

State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins said a $28.5 million investment, delivered as part of the Victorian budget for 2017-18, would help lay the groundwork for treaty negotiations and ensure Aboriginal Victorians were at the centre of the discussion.

The investment includes funding for the development of a new representative body, as well as a self-determination plan.

Aboriginal Victorians met last week to discuss the path forward for a treaty.

The meeting, hosted by the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group, included an update on the treaty process to date and discussion around the make-up of the representative body.

Mr Harding said this week there had been a mixed reaction at the meeting to the preferred options for a representative body.

It was hoped the community assembly could tackle some of the outstanding issues.

“I’m concerned that we need to keep pushing on,” Mr Harding said.

“We’re 180 years into the colonisation of this state and most other colonised countries did treaties at the point of frontier wars and here we are nearly 200 years later and we’re doing it now.

“It’s slightly different but it’s certainly about people’s sovereignty. All the different language groups, tribal groups, clan groups, family groups, it’s about all those things tied together and it’s about getting some justice.”

By Wendy Caccetta

 

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