The Hon. Gabrielle Williams vision for Victoria’s future is that it is a safe, vibrant and an inclusive state that continues to lead the nation in gender equality, prevention of family violence, First Peoples – State relations, innovation and economic prosperity. Gabrielle holds a few portfolios and one being the Minister for Treaty and First Peoples.
The first independent umpire in Australia to oversee Treaty negotiations will be created following a historic vote in the Victorian Parliament today to concede some of the State’s power. • Victoria is the first jurisdiction in Australia to action the treaty and truth elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
• The establishment of the Treaty Authority and the Self-Determination Fund are key milestones in Victoria’s pathway to treaty.
• The Treaty Authority will be the independent umpire for Treaty negotiations in Victoria, which will commence next year.
Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said the establishment of the Treaty Authority was about stepping outside of the colonial system and putting First Peoples’ lore, law and cultural authority at the heart of the journey to Treaty. “This is another huge step forward and one that mob all around the Country can take inspiration from. With the Assembly our people have a voice. We already have Truth-telling underway and now Treaty is very much within reach,” said Mr Stewart. The agreement reached between the First Peoples’ Assembly and the Government of Victoria in June establishes the Treaty Authority outside of the usual state bureaucracy – it won’t report to a Minister, its funding is insulated from the whims of political cycles, and it will be led entirely by First Peoples.
Assembly Co-Chair, Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said it was encouraging to see the public and politicians willing to have the hard conversations and to finally make space and listen to the needs and hopes of First Peoples. “When people tell me this sounds like a very different way of doing things, I think good! Treaty needs to be done on our terms, because our people need to have faith in the path forward. We’ve been let down too many times before, but now there is real sense of hope growing. Hope that this country is ready to reckon with the past and make amends so we can create a better future together,” said Aunty Geraldine.
In the coming months the Assembly and the Victorian Government will seek to reach agreement about the ‘Treaty Negotiation Framework’ which will set the ground-rules and process for Treaty negotiations. Talks are also underway about a ‘Self Determination Fund’ that will ensure Traditional Owners can enter negotiations on a more level playing field and First Peoples communities can create wealth and prosperity for future generations. Aunty Geraldine said nothing was off the table and that Treaty needs to both respect and uphold First Peoples’ Culture and correct the economic disadvantage inflicted by dispossession. “This generation has the opportunity to right past wrongs by making sure the future is one we can be proud of. We have here in this place we all call home, the oldest living Culture in the world. It’s beautiful and we want to share and celebrate it with everyone. All we ask in return is that we regain the freedom and power to make the decisions that affect our lives and our land,” said Aunty Geraldine.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams "There are few days that deserve to be lauded as ‘historic’, but this is one." “Together with the First Peoples’ Assembly, we are establishing an independent Treaty Authority with the ability to deliver an innovative approach to Treaty negotiations based on Aboriginal lore, law and cultural authority." “Thank you to the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria for your tireless work and advocacy in developing the Treaty Authority, and ensuring it reflects First Peoples' aspirations. Assembly Co-Chair Aunty Geraldine Atkinson asked us to "step into this moment and have the courage to help create change". And I'm proud to say we have."