Establishing a voice for Aboriginal Victorians to talk treaty

The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner will welcome key Aboriginal leaders from across the state and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins today at an event at Parliament House to celebrate and reflect on Victoria’s momentous progress towards treaty to-date.

Led by proud Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher AO, the Commission commenced operations in early 2018 and is responsible for establishing an Aboriginal Representative Body, a democratic voice to represent Aboriginal Victorians in the next stage of the journey to treaty.

At the special event, Aboriginal Treaty Working Group members will officially hand over their report to the Commission with recommendations on the design of the Representative Body.

The report is the culmination of two years of engagement and consultation with Aboriginal people across Victoria and it will form the backbone of Jill Gallagher’s work as Commissioner.

The Commission’s role is not to negotiate a treaty or treaties, instead it will engage with Aboriginal communities and organisations to set up the Aboriginal Representative Body.

Anticipated to be established in 2019, the Representative Body will work with the Victorian Government to set up a treaty negotiation framework to enable treaty negotiations.

"Aboriginal Victorians have long called for treaty. Australia is one of the only Commonwealth countries that does not have a treaty with Indigenous peoples and Victoria can lead the way, ensuring recognition of historic wrongs and promotion of fundamental human rights," said Ms Gallagher.

Awarded an Order of Australia in 2013 and inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2015, Ms Gallagher is a highly respected Victorian Aboriginal leader who has dedicated her life to advocating for the Victorian Aboriginal community.

As Commissioner, Jill Gallagher will soon be out on the road across the state to lead consultations with Aboriginal Victorians including traditional owners and community organisations.

"While the contents of a future treaty or treaties are yet unknown, we are committed to establishing a Representative Body that captures the voices of the Victorian Aboriginal community, while working in partnership with the Victorian Government," said Ms Gallagher.