Updated: Jan 18
Victoria is the first state to progress Treaty discussions with Aboriginal Leaders. First People's Assembly's Leanne Miller and Levi Power update us on the Treaty journey so far.
Treaty in Victoria
The First People’s Assembly of Victoria is the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria. Further details: www.firstpeoplesvic.org
Ruth Yeatman and Phil Bourne invite Leanne Miller and Levi Power into conversation about why the Assembly was formed and how Treaty negotiations are progressing thus far.
Leanne Miller is a proud Dhulanyagen Ulupna of the Yorta Yorta people and the the North East Representative of the People’s Assembly. Levi Power is the Assembly Project Officer and his mob is the Dhulanyagan Clan of the Yorta Yorta.
Australia remains the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its indigenous people. Treaties were established early on in other British dominions such as New Zealand in 1840 with the Maoris signing the Treaty of Waitangi. At the same time in Australia, Aborigines were being hunted down, shot and slaughtered. Provision was made for indigenous people in Canada's constitution in 1867. The only mention of Aborigines in Australia's constitution of 1901 was to exclude them.
Voting rights for Aboriginal people were restricted in the first half of the 20th century after Federation, and after Australia introduced the 'White Australia' policy. In 1962 Indigenous Australians were finally allowed to register and vote.
But it wasn’t until 1967, that indigenous people were formally recognised as Australian citizens. ON 27 MAY 1967, 90.77 per cent of Australians voted 'yes' in a constitutional referendum to improve indigenous rights and award citizenship to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
Uluru Statement of the Heart 2017 was first presented to the Australian people in May 2017. The statement made two recommendations: a constitutionally recognised Indigenous voice to parliament, and a Makarrata process to investigate truth-telling and treaty-making. Neither have been implemented or, in the case of the voice, put to a referendum.
In Victoria, times are changing. After years of tireless advocacy from Aboriginal leaders, Victoria is the first state to progress Treaty discussions. In March 2018 The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews committed the State Government to discussing Treaty with Aboriginal People and Communities. The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group was formed the following July (2018). And the Aboriginal Community began Treaty discussions in December of 2018.
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is the voice for Aboriginal communities across the state, representing them in the next phase of the Treaty process. The Assembly is made up of proud Aboriginal leaders. All are Victorian Traditional Owners, elected and appointed by their communities.
Laws urgently need to change the minimum age of criminal responsibility to raise the age from 10 - 13 years to 14 years so they no longer can be sent to prison: www.raisetheage.org.au/ Sign the petition.
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