The Victorian lower house has passed the Andrews Labor Government’s treaty legislation, an important step on its journey to becoming law. This will be Australia’s first-ever treaty legislation to commit to formal negotiations between Victorian Parliament and the state’s Aboriginal people.

At the end of March 2018, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins, the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO, and members of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group presented the bill on the floor of parliament.

With the support of The Greens, the treaty is a chance for Victoria to properly recognise and celebrate our First Peoples, their culture, history, and status unique to Victoria.

Of the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018, Minister Hutchins said the “treaty presents an opportunity to accelerate closing the gap by building a relationship that both acknowledges the wrongs of the past and shared goals for the future.”

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the news via his Twitter tonight writing:

“Australia’s first-ever treaty legislation has just passed the lower house of the Victorian Parliament. Now, the bill will go to the upper house. And if it passes there, it will become law. We’ll be on our way toward a treaty with Aboriginal Victorians.”

In a followup tweet Andrews wrote:

“It’s the next step on this journey to true reconciliation. It will recognise the rights, cultures, and histories of the world’s oldest continuing civilisation. And Victoria’s First Peoples have waited long enough.”

Gallagher said during the presentation:

“I know we cannot change the past wrongs. But this bill is a monumental step in the process towards righting the wrongs of the past.”

The Northern Territory will sign a memorandum of understanding on Friday, a document that will pledge to work toward the state’s own treaty with our nation’s First Peoples.

Last week, thousands of Victorians gathered to watch the headline event, Dreamtime at the ‘G, during the Indigenous Round. As part of the pre-game ceremony, Wurundjeri elder Uncle Bill Nicholson performed the Welcome to Country ceremony while Western Australia Senator Patrick Dodson delivered a powerful speech about the realities of Indigenous people.

“Indigenous people are more likely to come to the attention of the police. They’re more likely to be arrested and charged. Indigenous people who are charged are more likely to go to court. Indigenous people who are sent to court are more likely to go to jail. Indigenous youth are 50 per cent of the incarcerated youth in detention centres. Facts speak for themselves.”

Indigenous rapper Briggs also performed.

Image: Getty Images / John White Photos