A landmark Treaty Authority bill has been passed in the lower house of the Victorian parliament.
The legislation, the first of its kind, is designed to ensure a fair and just reconciliation process for First Nations people.
It was passed with a single MP – outgoing Liberal Tim Smith – voting against it, and will go to the upper house.
The bill will be led by First Nations People and will be grounded in First Peoples’ culture and law.
It allows for an independent Treaty Authority to oversee Treaty negotiations and help resolve disputes.
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder and co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, applauded the outcome.
“We’ve got a long journey ahead of us, but it’s great to see people in Victoria are willing to walk with us as ultimately this is about creating a better future together,” she said.
The Treaty “umpire” will sit outside of the usual government bureaucracy and will not report to any minister.
Assembly co-chair and proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said the bill is long overdue.
“This is history in the making and I want to thank the MPs who are choosing to be on the right side of history by walking with us,” Mr Stewart said.
“Treaty will help us collectively right the wrongs of the past and secure meaningful change to improve the lives of our people.”