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Treaty framework complete

20 October 2022 at 7:50 am
First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and state government agree Treaty framework.

Contributor | 20 October 2022 at 7:50 am


Treaty framework complete
20 October 2022 at 7:50 am

First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and state government to sign agreement on Treaty. 

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian government will today sign an agreement to provide the framework and ground-rules for traditional owners to negotiate treaties across the state.

Co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said Aboriginal people must make decisions on the issues that affect them.

“Today marks the beginning of a new and fairer chapter for this state’s history. Colonisation saw our freedom, dignity and agency stripped from us. We were driven from our lands, had our families ripped apart and every aspect of our lives – where we could live, who we could marry – was controlled by the state. This agreement puts the power back into Aboriginal hands so that we can decide how we want to do things and how to get Treaty done,” said Stewart.

The framework sets out the principles that will guide Treaty-making. Traditional owner groups can develop their own pathways and timelines for treaties that reflect the priorities of their communities.

According to a statement released by the assembly, the framework:

  • Encourages unity and inclusion
  • Protects existing rights and gains of Traditional Owners
  • Empowers Traditional Owners to negotiate Treaties for their Country
  • Confirms the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will be able to (after its next elections) negotiate the statewide Treaty on statewide matters
  • Confirms the Victorian government will negotiate both the statewide and Traditional Owner Treaties
  • Explains that only a single Treaty negotiation delegation can be formed to negotiate a particular area – so in some areas, multiple Traditional Owners will need to form a combined delegation – this is mob making decisions on who is mob and how we organise
  • Outlines the standards and criteria relating to things like inclusivity, connection to an area, and governance structures that need to be met
  • Self-assessment and collaboration are encouraged and always the first steps, but the Treaty Authority is there to support and facilitate discussions or act as an umpire if disputes arise
  • The gate doesn’t shut on Traditional Owners from joining delegations/negotiations
  • Traditional Owners can access a Self-Determination Fund to help them prepare for Treaty negotiations and enter on equal footing
  • Interim offers and agreements can be made once negotiations begin to allow for early activation of rights that benefit Community
  • Framework provides guiding principles and scaffolding to enable negotiations, but Traditional Owners have significant flexibility to choose their own pathways to and during negotiations
  • Aims to build a new relationship between the State and First Peoples based upon realising the rights set out in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • May be reviewed within the first 12 months and amended if needed
  • Will recognise First Peoples’ Lore, Law and Cultural Authority during negotiations
  • Traditional Owners can set protocols with the State on how and where negotiations take place and how they formalise Treaty – for example, through existing governance structures or through ceremony.

The Self-Determination Fund helps Traditional Owners prepare to Treaty, before then becoming a financial resource independent of government, to empower capacity-building in community.

The fund is administered by the assembly and day-to-day decisions will be made by a trustee appointed by the assembly. The state government will initially invest $65 million in the fund over three years to help Traditional Owners prepare to Treaty.

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