A major meeting took place in Victoria today to bring together opinions heard through a string of consultations across the state, as work continues on what a treaty between the Government and First Nations people would look like.
Earlier in the year the Andrews Government committed to working on a settlement with the state’s First Nations people after a meeting of over 500 people rejected the proposal of constitutional recognition.
The process has since seen the establishment of a Treaty Interim Working Group, and with involvement from international consultancy firm Ernst & Young, traveled to ten locations across the state to hear opinions on how to form a First Nations representative body to drive negotiations.
Some members of the working group addressed the audience about things they heard throughout their participation, with cultural based representation being a major theme brought forward.
Taungurung elder Mick Harding is on the working group and attended several meetings.
He took the time to emphasise the importance of cultural based representation from the people he spoke to.
Today’s forum also took questions from those in the audience and from people tuning in online.
The first question came from Dja Dja Wurrung elder Gary Murray in the audience.
While he does see hope, he did raise concerns for a lack of attendance at all the consultation meetings.
Mr Murray was told that around 300 people attended consultations in the past few weeks and that everyone represented their mob in their own way.
Mr Murrays concerns were further emphasised by Gunai/Gunditjmara woman Lydia Thorpe who says the process is flawed and talked of numbers at meetings she attended being as low as 10 to 15.
She also slammed the use of non-Indigenous consultants.
A comment from Gunditjmara woman Michaelia Bamblett pointed out a need for education on the process and how to be a part of the consultations effectively.
The process will continue and while it is not yet known what form it will take, a representation body is hoped to be established early in the new year.