News

Voting open for Australia’s first treaty

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Eight people stand on history’s threshold as candidates for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria election.

But only three of them will find their names in the history books, as there are only three seats for northern Victoria.

The assembly is the next step in Victoria’s treaty process and will have 21 elected members across the state and 11 formally recognised Traditional Owner groups.

Treaty advancement commissioner Jill Gallagher said the assembly will help create the framework for negotiations.

“Australia is one of the only Commonwealth nations without a treaty with its First Peoples,” she said.

“That is so wrong but we are slowly setting it right.”

Ms Gallagher said it was important for indigenous people to have their own electoral roll and voting process, sitting on par with India for the longest voting period in the world at five weeks.

“We want to build our own electoral roll because a lot of our mob don’t engage in the mainstream electoral roll or voting,’’ she said.

‘‘So building it from scratch has been a challenge, but it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done because it will be our own Victorian Aboriginal electoral roll.’’

Voting is open until October 20.

Eligible indigenous community members can enrol at firstpeoplesvic.org

For more information or support call 1800 TREATY (1800 78 32 89).