The co-chairs of the First Peoples' Assembly have written to Indigenous Victorians for the first time in 2024, in a year where Treaty negotiations with the state government will begin.
Gunditjmara man Reuben Berg and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman Ngarra Murray said several key topics had emerged from yarns across the state which would likely be put forward during the first meetings with the government.
These include representation, especially how to make the Assembly a permanent representative body for First Peoples in and from Victoria, and what details, powers and scope it would have; decision making powers in relation to those made by First Peoples, for First Peoples, and the process of establishing a timetable to see those decision making powers transferred from the government to the community; and a transformation of the child protection and justice system, with recommendations from the Yoorrook Justice Commission including a move towards an Indigenous led child protection system which the Assembly says needs to be implemented in a reasonable timeframe.
"We also know having our cultures and languages respected is very important to Community and making sure our young mob can grow up with pride and be strong in culture," the two co-chairs said.
"So we want to hear ideas about other early negotiation topics like shared celebrations and implementation of dual language naming of places.
"There's a lot of work to be done, with support and guidance from First Peoples right across Victoria, we know we'll make great progress in 2024."
Treaty negotiations will cover "big picture reforms" which the Assembly hopes will see systemic change implemented and better outcomes delivered in key areas, including health, justice and education. The negotiations will be overseen by the recently elected independent Treaty Authority.
The Assembly has also created a framework for Traditional Owners across Victoria to negotiate Treaties that reflect the specific priorities of the areas. A Self-Determination Fund has been set up to provide financial assistance to traditional Owner groups that want to start preparing for negotiations.
Along with the Treaty negotiations, released a media statement last week in relation to the recent decision by Woolworths and Aldi to stop selling Australia Day paraphernalia.
In a response to the news, the Assembly released a short, four word response: "It's about damn time."
The Indigenous body has also announced the latest lineup for Treat Day Out, to be held on Wadawurrung Country in Ballarat on March 2.