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Rueben Berg talks about Treaty and the Voice to Parliament on Balit Dhumba

A proud Gunditjmara man living in Narrm (Melbourne), Victoria, and also a proud father of two children, Kalinga and Jirra.

Rueben is experienced in working in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous arena and has developed and refined his skills and expertise through his professional experiences in program managing government programs, his Indigenous perspective on architecture and his role as a facilitator. Rueben has extensive leadership and capacity development experience and is committed to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

Rueben is also a founder of the Indigenous Ultimate Association and Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria. In addition, Rueben is a Member of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and has previously held roles as a Member of the Heritage Council of Victoria, Chair of Westernport Water, and a Commissioner for the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.

In 2019 I was fortunate to be elected to the inaugural First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. As an elected Member. He has worked hard to produce videos to inform community about the Treaty process, attended many community events, and made substantial contributions to the Treaty process. I participated in negotiations with the State Government regarding the details of the Treaty Negotiation Framework and the Self Determination Fund.

Eastern Maar citizen Rueben Berg has been appointed to the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Assembly) within the Reserved Seat Membership for Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC)

After an Expression of Interest process Rueben was elected by Eastern Maar community members at a Full Group Meeting held in late May.

Rueben said ‘I am extremely honoured to be representing the Eastern Maar community in this next phase of the Treaty process. Being able to represent the people, land, and waters, that I am most connected to is very powerful’.

‘For this next phase I want to continue to progress the important Treaty work that lies ahead, I hope to play a key role to support Eastern Maar to progress Traditional Owner Treaties, and to make sure that Treaty brings benefits to all of our community’, Rueben said.

‘Our community has made some really strong and positive achievements, especially in more recent years, and the Treaty process is a great way to strengthen those achievements as well as gaining even greater rights and empowering our people to take control of our communities, our language, our land, our waters, and our future’, Rueben said.

The Assembly is an independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners of Country and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria. In its next term, the Assembly will immediately focus heavily on negotiate a statewide Treaty to tackle the big overarching statewide issues like improving health, education, and justice.

EMAC congratulates all Treaty candidates who have recently stood for election in this second phase and we look forward to working closely through Rueben as our Treaty Reserved Seat member with the next composition of the Assembly.

As Rueben notes in an insightful explainer video, we’re now seeing “a really powerful conversation” around Voice. “But that’s just part of the pathway to achieving those rights under the UN Declaration – if we can achieve Voice, that will be really powerful in enabling us to progress [to Treaty and Truth outcomes]. There are other conversations being had though… different perspectives within the community.”

As Rueben explains, opposition to the Voice among First Nations communities largely stems from differing views around the order in which Voice, Treaty and Truth should be pursued.

“There are these conversations that instead of the current proposal to have a referendum around Voice, we should be having a conversation first around Treaty, Truth or a much more powerful Voice. I think those are all valid points and I would love the idea that we could achieve all those things, and I’m not too bothered, to be honest, about what the order is.

“[But] I’m very hesitant of this idea that we shouldn’t support the Voice because hopefully in the future we’ll be able to have conversations around Treaty instead or around Truth instead.

“To my mind, the best chance we have of achieving Voice, Treaty and Truth is to take the opportunity that is in front of us and grasp that opportunity and get a Voice for our people.”


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