Historic Treaty agreement "on the cusp" as supporters rock Bendigo
[supplied by First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria]
Treaty Day Out, the biggest, blakest music festival on Victoria’s calendar saw 3,000 mob and allies rock out on Dja Dja Wurrung Country to an all-First Nations line-up on Saturday, as the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Assembly), is “on the cusp” of a landmark agreement with the State Government.
The Assembly, who organised the festival, are the elected voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Victorian Treaty process.
“It was an amazing event. It was just wonderful to yarn with so many people and feel the support and excitement building for Treaty. I had a deadly time, loved every minute of it,” said Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder and Co-Chair of the Assembly, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson.
Addressing the crowd on Saturday, Aunty Geraldine explained how the Assembly is close to reaching an historic agreement with the State Government that will facilitate the start of Treaty negotiations for the first time ever.
“When you think of how long our people have been asking for this opportunity, it’s amazing that here we are. Treaty finally within reach. It shows what can be done when we work together constructively. When we think of what is best for our people.
When we focus on building collective structures so our people will always have the power to protect our culture and our Country and we can all get on with strengthening our communities,” said Aunty Geraldine.
That agreement includes the Treaty Negotiation Framework and the Self-Determination Fund, which are the last two pieces of Treaty-making architecture that need to be put in place during the Assembly’s first term.
Elections will then be held next year to allow First Peoples in Victoria to choose who will negotiate a state-wide Treaty with the Victorian Government, while Traditional Owners will form delegations to negotiate separate Treaties relating to their particular areas.
“It’s about the process of empowering you fellas, our Traditional Owners, our fellow Aboriginal Victorians to start negotiating Treaty, as soon as next year!” said Aunty Geraldine.
Aunty Geraldine said it had been a long and hard journey, but she was exceptionally proud of the work Assembly Members had done with their communities to get to this point and said it was an honor to contribute to a transformative piece of work that will improve the lives of First Peoples for generations to come and urged everyone to get involved.
“Everyone is welcome on this journey. We want everyone to have their say and get involved. You know, people have asked, ‘What will Treaty get me? What’s it going to deliver?’ And you know what I say to them? ‘It will be up to you, because that’s self-determination, that’s you empowering your communities, that’s what Treaty is going to provide’. It’s what we make it, so get involved,” said Aunty Geraldine.
Talks with the Government will continue this week and Aunty Geraldine is confident the agreement will be reached this month before the Government enters care-taker mode and the state election is held.
“Everyone wants to get on with building a better future together as equals, but to do that we must first address the unfinished business of racism and of what invasion and colonisation has done. And Treaty is our opportunity to do exactly that,” said Aunty Geraldine.
Approximately 3000 people attended the Treaty Day Out concert in Bendigo on Saturday. The line-up included Briggs, Dan Sultan, Kee’anh, No Fixed Address, Bumpy, Scott Darlow and more. Entry was free for First Nations people enrolled with the Assembly and tickets were available to purchase for friends and allies.
Watch Aunty Geraldine’s full speech from Treaty Day Out here.
Watch our short overview video about the Treaty Negotiation Framework on this webpage.
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