The next steps toward Treaty are being taken in Victoria as enrolment for voting in the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has opened.

The election will decide 21 out of the 33 seats in the Assembly, which is being set up by the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal community.

These 21 seats will come from five regions and include a gender balance to ensure the Assembly represents Victorian Aboriginal communities equally.

The other 12 seats are reserved for the 12 Traditional Owner groups in Victoria who are already formally recognised.

Indigenous Australians enrolling to vote will be signed up to the Assembly Electoral Roll which is independent from government elections and their electoral roll.

The Assembly will be Victorian Aboriginal communities’ voice throughout the Treaties process and will set the framework for how Treaties can be agreed upon in the state.

“If we get this right, every Traditional Owner group in Victoria should be able to negotiate their Treaty for their country,” said Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher.

This comes as Essendon Football Club has joined Richmond Football Club in supporting Treaties.

Both clubs will feature ‘Treaty for Victoria’ on their guernseys at this month’s Dreamtime at the G match.

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings has thrown his support behind the Assembly.

“Victoria’s inaugural First People’s Assembly will be a voice for Aboriginal Victorians and help guide us towards Treaty,” Minister Jennings said.

“I encourage all those eligible to enrol early because it’s so important everyone gets a say in who is elected.”

Assembly candidate nominations open on Monday May 27. All candidates must be Traditional Owners of country in Victoria.

Eligible voters must be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders aged 16 and over who have either lived in Victoria for at least three of the past five years, or who are Traditional Owners of country in Victoria.

The Commission will have 12 Assembly Election Officers working throughout Victoria offering real-time support for community members wishing to participate.

Enrolment and voting can be done online, in person or via post.

Voting for the Assembly begins July 8 and ends July 21.

By Hannah Cross