News

Treaty takes on democracy

By Shepparton News

MELBOURNE: The world’s oldest living culture is taking a modern-age approach to democracy in a push to strike Aboriginal treaty in Victoria.

Online voting will be available for Aboriginal Victorians, including those as young as 16, to elect representatives to the First Peoples’ Assembly.

The Assembly aims to design a framework for future treaty negotiations.

Helping the push towards treaty is AFL club Richmond and its sister organisation, the Korin Gamadji Institute, Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher announced yesterday.

The partnership will propel the issue further into the mainstream, with the treaty logo to feature prominently during the Dreamtime at the ‘G match on May 25, including on the Tigers’ guernsey and playing ground.

‘‘It’s a platform that is quite special, it has a great reach to not only Aboriginal people but non-Aboriginal people, but in this case it helps us get the message out,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

After years of in-depth consultation with communities across the state to map a path to treaty, significant progress is expected this year.

The First People’s Assembly will be created to replace the Treaty Advancement Commission and work with the state government to prepare for negotiations, including ground rules.

It’s anticipated about 30000 people will vote on the assembly by registering on the electoral roll.

‘‘We need to consider traditional ways of doing business as much as we can, but we also had to be practical in the year 2019,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

To extend the reach and encourage participation voting can be done online, via post or in person during the two-week election in July.

Age eligibility was dropped to 16 and prisoners can also enrol.

Ms Gallagher said efforts to develop treaty had already been exhaustive.

‘‘When you look at the immense challenges that we have in this space — we’ve been colonised for 230 years. Colonisation, whether people like to recognise it or not, was brutal and very rapid, for south-east Australia anyway. It did a lot of damage,’’ she said.

‘‘We actually have an opportunity to create something that is going to eventually get treaties for Aboriginal people in this state that is going to actually recognise the wrongs of the past.

‘‘It resets our relationship as first peoples of this state with the state, but more importantly with the rest of the Victorian population.’’

First Peoples’ Assembly vote

●May 10 — enrolment opens;

●May 27 — candidate nominations open;

●June (date TBC) — candidate nominations close;

●July 8 — voting opens;

●July 21 — voting closes;

●August — results released;

●Who can vote? Aboriginal Victorians from age 16 and traditional owners who no longer live in the state;

●What will be the makeup? Twenty-one members elected through a vote of Victorian Aboriginal communities, and 12 seats allocated to each formally-recognised traditional owner group.