A Treaty Authority that sits outside of the government will be introduced in Victoria to essentially “umpire” negotiations between Traditional Owners and the Victorian Government. This new legislation has been seen as “decolonisation in action” by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and a big win for First Peoples in Victoria.

The agreement made between the government and the First People’s Assembly will result in an independent Treaty Authority body appointed by and made up of First Peoples. This group will help with ongoing Treaty negotiations in Victoria and will be guided by Aboriginal lore, law and authority.

Proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation Marcus Stewart  — who is the Assembly Co-Chair — said the new legislation will make sure negotiations aren’t locked to Western concepts but are instead grounded in and guided by over 60,000 years of culture.

“This is about stepping outside of the colonial system,” he said.

“We’ve said to [the] government, if you’re serious about Treaty, you’ll do it our way, and to their credit, that’s what they’re doing. This is decolonisation in action.

“The Government is relinquishing some of its control and power and together we are creating new institutions that will be guided by Aboriginal lore, law and cultural authority that has been practised on these lands for countless generations.”

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams will take the legislation to Parliament on Tuesday and a public call for nominations for Treaty Authority members will be made in the coming months.

Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson said this agreement with the Victorian government marks a big step in the right direction for Indigenous communities in the state.

“I’m really excited to see our culture, lore and law being ingrained into the very building blocks of Treaty-making,” she said.

“Treaty is an opportunity to restore our ability to make the decisions that affect our communities, our culture and our Country and this agreement is a really big step towards that destination.

“This is a wonderful day,”

Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor