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Treaty authority looks to community for members to oversee Treaty negotiations

Dechlan Brennan -

The journey towards Treaty for First Nations people in Victoria this week reached another milestone, with the Treaty Authority publicly calling for nominations for five inaugural members.

The Treaty Authority, an independent panel jointly appointed by the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian State Government, will be made up of respected First Peoples from Victoria, or with strong ties to the Aboriginal community in the state.

The members will play a key role in leading the formation of the Treaty Authority; a groundbreaking institution designed to oversee the statewide and local Treaty negotiations between Indigenous communities and the State.

Gunditjmara-Kirrae Whurrong man and Panellist, Marcus Clarke, said the Treaty Authority's role is to help negotiations, as well as provide assistance in resolving disputes if required.

"Each Member will play an influential role in forming, growing and maturing the Treaty Authority's organisational environment," he said.

"Ensuring that it is best placed and equipped to facilitate Treaty negotiations and resolve disputes in a safe, inclusive and flexible way if they arise between the parties."

Senior panelist and Wamba Wamba Woman, Karinda Taylor, said the panel is now calling for people to put their hand up to help lead the newly formed Treaty Authority.

"The Treaty Authority is a new body, a unique entity, and this is an incredible opportunity for leaders in community to step forward to nominate to get Treaty done," Mrs Tyalor said.

"We are looking for people with cultural knowledge to develop fit-for-purpose and culturally strong governance and uphold Aboriginal Law, Lore and Cultural Authority."

Mr Clarke agreed, noting that "Members are privileged with the task of ensuring Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority are observed and upheld throughout the Treaty negotiation process."

Mrs Taylor said that the members would be recruited through an "independent and robust" process, developed by the panel. She said the panel considered the input of the Elders' Voice at the First Peoples' Assembly for providing guidance and to ensure the recruitment process is culturally strong.

Newly appointed First Peoples' Assembly Co-Chair, Gunditjmara man Reuben Berg, said the panel had an important task ahead of them.

"It's important that Treaty is done in a way that respects and understands our way of doing things and helps our cultures thrive," he said.

"The panel will need to find the right people who are respected and trusted by our community, so mob, please help and get the word out there."

Fellow recently appointed Co-Chair and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, Ngarra Murray, said the Treaty Authority is groundbreaking.

"The Treaty Authority is the first of its kind, it's the next step in the journey towards a better way of doing things," Ms Murray said.

"The Authority will have a lot of responsibility to guide our mobs and the Government around or through disputes and to find the common ground.

"But it's also about ensuring our cultural authority is recognised and respected,"

The authority will be made up of respected First Peoples from Aboriginal communities in Victoria, or with strong ties to them. They will ensure the Authority's approach is grounded in Lore, law and culture.

The Treaty Authority was legislated through an agreement between the State of Victoria and the First Peoples' Assembly. This legislation ensures the Authority is independent and not subject to the direction of a Minister.

Furthermore, its funding is protected from the otherwise usual budget and electoral cycles to help safeguard the Treaty Process for all Victorian residents.

In May this year, an independent panel was jointly appointed by the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian Government to oversee the selection process of the Treaty Authority Members.

Nominations for the five inaugural Members of the Treaty Authority are now open and will close on Monday 28 August. The new Members are expected to be appointed by November 2023.

Information on how to apply or nominate a candidate to be a Treaty Authority Member can be found here. Interested persons can request an information pack from IndigCareers by emailing their interest/nomination to [email protected].

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