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Treaty by-election nominations open

[by Tom Clarke]

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The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson. Image: supplied

The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria opened candidate nominations for a By-election in the North East region, which runs south of the NSW border and includes Echuca, Mansfield, Rushworth, Shepparton, Tallangatta, Wangaratta and Wodonga.  

Assembly Co-Chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson encouraged eligible Traditional Owners of Country to consider putting up their hand to join the Assembly and represent Community in the North East region on the journey towards Treaty. 

“Treaty is our chance to right wrongs and ensure our Community has the power and the resources to make the decisions about matters that affect our lives, our culture and our Country. We’ve made so much progress already, but we need someone to step up and help make sure mob in the North East are well represented,” said Aunty Geri. 

The By-election is to replace former Assembly Member and North East representative Nartarsha Bamblett who stepped down late last year. Any Traditional Owner in Victoria over the age of 18 whose Country is in the North East region or who currently lives in that region can nominate as a candidate for the by-election.  

Nominations will close at 4pm on 7 February and nominated candidates can receive up to $1,000, as well as non-financial support, from the Assembly to support their election campaign.  

Aunty Geri said that elected Assembly Members receive a stipend in recognition for their work and responsibilities.  

“Being an Assembly Member can be challenging but it is incredibly worthwhile. Self-determination isn’t just the destination, it’s how we get there. This is about putting Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat and so obviously selecting our representatives as a key part of the journey to Treaty. So make sure you’re enrolled with the Assembly,” said Aunty Geri. 

Assembly Members regularly yarn with their constituents; represent their diverse interests; attend Chamber meetings; vote on key issues and participate in the Assembly’s various Committee meetings as well. 

To nominate as a candidate in the Assembly by-election, go to firstpeoplesvic.org/ne-byelection. The successful candidate will serve until the Assembly’s next general election, due no later than December 2023. 

“The NAIDOC theme for this year is “Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up” which is very relevant. Treaty isn’t going to negotiate itself, we need Community to get active, have the discussions, and put forward their representatives. It’s going to be an exciting year,” said Aunty Geri. 

Voting in the by-election will run from 26 February until 11pm, 27 March 2022 and is open to any person who is a Traditional Owner of Country in Victoria, or any Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has lived in Victoria for at least three of the past five years. Community can enrol to vote at firstpeoplesvic.org/enrol.  

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