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First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria election results set scene for renewed drive for Treaty

Dechlan Brennan -

The vote counting for the 'Treaty Elections 2023' – the second term of the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria – has concluded, with the successful candidates for all the regions being announced on Saturday night.

Outgoing Assembly Co-Chair, proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said that elections would be pivotal in Victoria's ongoing quest for decolonisation.

"This is self-determination in action," Mr Stewart said.

"First Peoples in Victoria have spoken. These are the people who will represent us mob proudly and will get Treaty done. It's a big honour, but also a big responsibility."

The Assembly election were held from 13th of May to 3rd of June, with all eligible First Nations Peoples above the age of 16 invited to participate.

It was announced that electoral enrolments had tripled since 2019, with over 7,000 people enrolling to vote for candidates that will lead negotiations with the Victorian government for a state-wide Treaty.

Twenty-two members were elected from regions across Victoria: Ten members will represent the Metro area whilst the regions of the North-West, North-East, South-West and South-East will each have three individual representatives.

In addition to the members elected by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in their regions, the Assembly also reserves seats for Traditional Owners who represent the states formally recognised Traditional Owner corporations.

These groups are still in the process of electing their representatives, with the first gathering of the new Assembly members to be held in July.

The first iteration of the First Peoples' Assembly, from 2019-23, saw the establishment of the Yoorrook truth-telling inquiry - currently hearing stories of injustice. It has seen appearances by Premier Daniel Andrews and Victoria's Chief Commissioner of police, Shane Patton, who apologised for the racial injustices against First Nations people by the Victorian Police.

In addition, Assembly members have also reached an agreement with the Victorian government around key foundational building blocks for the proposed Treaty negotiations. These include the establishment of an independent umpire for the negotiations, as well as a self-determination fund to support Traditional Owners in Treaty preparation.

In a statement, the Assembly said it had "hosted over 360 Community events and had more than 23,000 conversations with mob right across the state to continue gathering ideas and input about how the journey to Treaty should unfold".

"For the second First Peoples' Assembly, Treaty negotiations are at the forefront. The Assembly says that a state-wide treaty will be used to tackle overarching issues, such as "improving health, education and justice."

Mr Stewart said he hopes everyone will "get behind" the new Assembly members.

"Treaty is our chance to think big. Nothing is off the table, so we need to push hard together," he said.

"Treaty is our opportunity to ensure First Peoples will always have the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect our communities, our culture, and our land."

The successful candidates announced on Saturday night are below. All results as announced are provisional until made final as provided for in the Assembly's election rules and constitution.

Metro Region

Barry Firebrace-Briggs, Yorta Yorta, Ulupna; Indi Clarke, Wemba Wemba, Mutti Mutti, Boon Wurrung, Trawlwoolway and Lardil; Troy Austin, Gunditjmara; Esme Bamblett, Bangerang, Taungurung, Wiradjuri; Ngarra Murray, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Dja Dja Wurrung; Tracey Evans, Gunditjmara, Bundjalung; Nerita Waight, Yorta Yorta, Narrandjeri; Alister Thorpe, Gunai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara; Uncle Shane Charles, Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, Yorta Yorta; Gary Murray, Dhudhuroa, Yorta Yorta, Barapa Barapa, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wamba Wemba, Wergaia, Wiradjeri.

North-West Region

Rodney Carter, Dja Dja Wurrung; Jacinta Chaplin, Wadi Wadi, Wamba Wamba; Jason Kelly, Wamba Wamba, Mutthi Mutthi.

North-East Region

Levi Power, Yorta Yorta; Belinda Briggs, Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba, Wurundjeri and Ngiyampaa; Nicole Atkinson, Bangerang, Gunditjmara.

South-West Region

Jordan Edwards, Gunditjmara, Waddawurrung, Arrernte; Michael 'Mookeye' Bell, Gunditjmara, Boandik; Sheree Lowe, Gunditjmara.

South-East Region

Alice Pepper, Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Gunditjmara, Arrernte; Peter Hood, Kurnai; Brian Stevens, Gunai.

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