Victoria’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill to create an independent authority to oversee treaty negotiations with First Nations people in the state.
The bill will facilitate the creation of a treaty authority, which will be an individual body separate from government bureaucracy and run entirely by First Nations people.
The Treaty Authority would act as the “arbiter” in future negotiations, based on the culture, laws and traditions of First Peoples.
The bill passed with only one MP voting against and it is about to go to the upper house.
In her address to Parliament, Assembly of First Peoples of Victoria, Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Co-Chair Geraldine Atkinson said the Treaty Authority was not something a colonial system could control.
“We determine who we are, who represents us, where our country is… don’t look back to this moment in the years to come to see yourself on the wrong side of history,” she said.
Aunty Geraldine said there was an overwhelming show of unity.
“We have a long journey ahead of us, but it’s great to see that the people of Victoria are ready to walk with us because, at the end of the day, it’s about creating a better future together,” he said. she stated.
Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed spoke in favor of the bill.
She said it was important to recognize the pain behind the work towards the treaty.
“It has been a very long and difficult journey for Aboriginal Australians to gain recognition, land rights, Aboriginal title and now a process towards treaty making,” Ms Sheed said.
“This journey has been hard fought and filled with disappointments along the way, but communities here in Victoria have never given up hope.
“They have continued to work hard to get to this point today where we are debating a very important bill that is part of this process.”