In 1930, Yorta Yorta man, William Cooper petitioned the King for a voice for Aboriginal people in the Federal parliament. On 28 May 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people released the Uluru Statement from the Heart calling for “the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution”.
In Victoria, conscious of this history and aware of national discussions, the first steps have already been taken to create a voice for Aboriginal people in Treaty negotiations. As a participant in the consultations noted:
A first step in Treaty is that those who are invisible become visible.
The representative body will be the visible and tangible manifestation of the voice and aspirations of Aboriginal people in Victoria.
This report summarises the work undertaken by the Aboriginal people in Victoria (Aboriginal Community) to design a representative body from February through to April 2017.
The primary focus of this work has been to draw on the design principles agreed with the Aboriginal Community in 2016 to design an independent and representative voice for the Aboriginal Community to lead the development, with the State Government, of a Treaty Negotiation Framework.
This report summarises the hundreds of Aboriginal voices who have directly contributed to this stage of consultation. They have provided a clear message on the way in which they seek to be represented, the way in which they wish to elect their representatives and the processes they want designed to enable an effective representative body.
And, they have asked questions and explored the challenges that a representative body will face on this journey. These insights – reflecting the history and daily experience of Aboriginal people – will strengthen the final design of a representative body as it emerges in the remainder of 2017.