Members elected to represent Indigenous Victorians in historic treaty talks are set to meet for the first time to pick their new figureheads.
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will gather at state parliament on Wednesday after treaty election results were announced last month.
Replacements for outgoing co-chairs Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Marcus Stewart will be elected during the meeting from among the 22 members, who will also give inaugural speeches.
Ms Atkinson will open the meeting and pass on a symbolic message stick to the democratically elected body which has been tasked with negotiating the nation-first treaty.
She is calling on new members to “do all mob proud” when statewide treaty negotiations begin later this year.
“What you do with the next four years is going to shape the future of first peoples here for generations to come,” the Bangerang and Wiradjuri woman said.
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Nerita Waight, former Department of Premier and Cabinet staffer Barry Firebrace-Briggs and Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council member Rodney Carter are among the 11 first-time assembly members.
The assembly’s first term was largely occupied with brokering treaty framework deals with the Victorian government, laying the foundation for the negotiations.
It led to the creation of an independent authority to resolve any disputes stemming from discussions, along with a self-determination fund to allow traditional owners to pursue separate treaties for their specific areas.
Mr Stewart said the initiatives showed better outcomes were possible when Aboriginal people can shape policies and programs for themselves, a core tenet of the proposed federal voice to parliament.
“Everyone wants to get on with creating a better future together as equals, but to do that we need to reckon with the injustices of the past, improve how things are done today, and work out better systems for creating a better future together,” he said.
“That’s what treaty is all about and it’s also something I believe the federal voice to parliament will help with.”
If the referendum passes, the assembly could lend its knowledge to the advisory body.