Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission
The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission (Commission) is an independent office set up to maintain the momentum of the treaty process and establish the Aboriginal Representative Body, to be known as the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will be an independent, democratic voice for Aboriginal Victorians in the next phase of the treaty process.
Ms Jill Gallagher AO was appointed the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner (Commissioner) and commenced in the role in January 2018. The Commissioner is to promote self-determination and provide greater independence for Aboriginal Victorians in the treaty process.
Since launching, the Commission has run more than 80 community discussions across regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne, speaking to over 1500 Aboriginal people.
The Commission has also spoken to 400 Aboriginal people in 15 corrections facilities about the treaty process and the establishment of the Aboriginal Representative Body, to ensure that all Aboriginal Victorians have had an opportunity to have their voices heard in the process.
First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria
The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner has advised that the Aboriginal Representative Body will be known as the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (Assembly) once established.
The Assembly will be an independent, democratic voice for Aboriginal Victorians in the next phase of the treaty process. The Assembly will be made up of at least 32 Aboriginal Traditional Owners to ensure it reflects the diversity of Aboriginal voices across Victoria. A seat will be reserved for each of the 11 formally recognised Traditional Owner groups in Victoria, and 21 general seats will be elected by votes held in six voting regions.
Voting to establish the Assembly is taking place between 16 September and 20 October 2019.
The Assembly will not negotiate treaty but will work in partnership with the Victorian Government to establish the elements to support future treaty negotiations, including:
- an independent Treaty Authority, to oversee and facilitate treaty negotiations
- a treaty negotiation framework, setting out the rules and process for treaty negotiations
- a self-determination fund, which will provide Aboriginal Victorians with an independent financial resource and support them to have equal standing with the State in treaty negotiations
Aboriginal Treaty Working Group
The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group was established in July 2016 to bring community voices into the heart of the treaty process. Working Group members are Victorian Traditional Owners from across the state, representing Elders, young people and statewide Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
Initial consultations revealed that a statewide representative body for Aboriginal Victorians was needed, to act as the State’s equal partner in designing a treaty framework. From July 2016 to December 2016, the Working Group engaged with the Aboriginal community on the potential functions of this representative body and to design principles to inform its creation. The Working Group also supported the Aboriginal community to hold ‘treaty circles’ – smaller community-led consultations – and have their say through an online ‘message stick’.
Further consultations were held in March 2017 to ask Aboriginal Victorians what structure the Aboriginal Representative Body should take and how it should represent the community.
The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group has a new role providing strategic guidance and advice to the Commissioner to support the establishment of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
Aboriginal Community Assembly
An Aboriginal Community Assembly was convened in November and December 2017 to resolve outstanding questions relating to the design of the Aboriginal Representative Body. The Community Assembly was designed by the Working Group and comprised 31 Aboriginal Victorians selected through an open process independent of government. Membership of the Community Assembly reflected the diversity of Victoria’s Aboriginal community, with strong representation of Elders and Traditional Owners.
The Community Assembly looked at questions relating to community representation, governance and the entity structure of the Aboriginal Representative Body. From its deliberations, the Community Assembly developed a series of detailed recommendations on the design of the Aboriginal Representative Body. Together with community consultations, these recommendations informed the Working Group’s final report on the design of the Aboriginal Representative Body.
The Victorian Government will represent the State of Victoria in the treaty process. It will work with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria in equal partnership to put in place a framework to support future treaty negotiations.
Reviewed 09 October 2019