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First Peoples' Assembly call out for Elders to be involved in Treaty negotiations

Dechlan Brennan -

The First Peoples' assembly has put out a call to Elders to help guide the journey towards Treaty in Victoria.

The Assembly has called on Elders to nominate to be part of the 'Elders' Voice,' - a panel of Elders from across the state that will offer cultural guidance to the Assembly members during the Treaty negotiations with the Victorian government.

These negotiations - one of the pillars of the recent Assembly elections - are scheduled to begin next year and are on track, according to co-chair and Gunditjmara man, Reuben Berg.

"Treaty will make a huge difference to the lives of Aboriginal people. It will both deliver big picture state reform and directly empower our communities to implement practical solutions at a local level," he said.

"It will also provide many opportunities for our cultures and languages to be shared and celebrated by everyone who now calls Victoria home."

Fellow co-chair and Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, Ngarra Murray, said Treaty was about putting the decision-making powers in the hands of Indigenous people.

"Treaty is our chance to put Aboriginal people in the driver's seat, so it's important we get this right and do it in a way that embraces the strengths of our people, culture, traditions and practices," she said.

"We love and respect our Elders; we need their experience and wisdom to help guide the Assembly as we enter Treaty negotiations so we can achieve the freedom our people have been fighting for since colonisation."

The nominations for the 'Elders Voice' were opened during a meeting on Bunurong Country in San Remo last week.

The two-day meeting of Assembly members saw discussions around the pending launch of two previously mentioned pieces of Treaty architecture: The Self-Determination Fund and the Treaty Authority.

The members also met with the newly appointed Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalie Hutchins.

The 'Elders' Voice' will also have two Elders' co-chairs, currently held by Bangerang, Taungurung and Wiradjuri woman, Aunty Esme Bamblett, and Dja Dja Wurrung man, Rodney Carter.

The role of the Elders' Voice includes engaging with fellow Elders to participate in the Treaty process as well as consulting with them on the future designs of an Elders' Voice under a state wide Treaty, provide cultural and ethical advice and oversight to the Assembly - including the reciprocal 'Youth Voice,' and to provide cultural and ethical guidance to the Treaty Authority.

Nominations for the Elders' Voice special advisory body have opened and will close on 12 January. Positions on the body are for 12-month terms and Elders will be compensated for their time attending meetings.

Information on the Elders Voice can be found here and applications can be found here.

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