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Councillors give green light to City of Melbourne First Nations Advisory Commitee

Jarred Cross -

Councillors have backed the establishment of a First Nations Advisory Committee for self-determination and a voice on strategy, policy and programs within the City of Melbourne.

The motion was carried unanimously on Tuesday.

The recommendation flags a twelve-person body appointed to represent 'Traditional Owners, residents, workers and visitors' among the wide spectrum of the Indigenous community.

It's proposed nine selected First Nations representatives would be appointed as members of the committee, alongside the holders of director, lead and deputy lead positions of council branch Aboriginal Melbourne; currently Gunaikurnai man Jason Eades, Lord Mayor Sally Capp, and Councillor Dr Olivia Ball.

Appointment processes would be retaken every three years.

While there are no current Indigenous City of Melbourne councillors, the lead and deputy lead positions - currently a portfolio, could in future be held by elected First Nations councillors.

At least half of the FNAC members are set to be women.

Councillor Ball told National Indigenous Times "this is a culmination of a long period of work".

City of Melbourne made a Declaration of Recognition and Commitment to Aboriginal peoples in 2021.

"This is the next step where as a municipality, we have the voice of First Nations people in this municipality, speaking to local government, and advising us on how best to do things. So it's a really positive step forward. And that's how it was received last night," Councillor Ball told National Indigenous Times.

Councillor Ball said the Council acknowledges its existence as a colonial government, and recognises that the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people was never ceded.

"It's (the Committee) part of our commitment to realising the right to self determination within our sphere of influence…So we have planned to try and govern with, and it's taken us some time, but this is the model we've come up with. And I'm very enthusiastic about seeing how this work," she said.

Aboriginal Melbourne director Jason Eades said he was proud to see moves toward First Nations people having a platform within the council .

"This will help to prioritise actions to enable self-determination and promote truth-telling across our community," he said.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said "this is a clear statement that Council will meaningfully engage with First Nations communities on decisions that affect their communities".

"We must champion First Nations peoples and elevate their voices, and I look forward to working with the committee to strengthen our reconciliation journey," she said.

Member appointment recommendations to the First Nations Committee will be presented in the coming months.

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