Australia

Aboriginal Victorians given more time to be part of group guiding Australia's first Indigenous treaty

People participate in a NAIDOC Week march in Melbourne, 5 July 2019. Source: AAP

Aboriginal Victorians have been given more time to nominate for a position on a democratically-elected Aboriginal representative body to guide negotiations for an Indigenous treaty.

Nominations remain open for Aboriginal Victorians to be part of Australia's first treaty representative group.

Voting was initially scheduled to open on Monday, coinciding with the start of NAIDOC week, but the Treaty Advancement Commission has delayed the 'people's assembly' ballot until September 16.

"Over the past few weeks, community members have shared with me that the timing is a challenge, so we are adjusting the timeframe so that more people can participate," Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher said.

"The extension still allows for the assembly to be established in this calendar year."

Nominations for the group are due to close on August 16, a month before the five-week voting period.

Eligible voters include Aboriginal Victorians aged 16 and above.

Registrations opened on 10 May with a launch at the Koori Youth Summit at Bacchus Marsh by Commissioner Jill Gallagher in an effort to get as many young people involved as possible.

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"Treaties between the State and Aboriginal parties are, fundamentally, about resetting a relationship that is more than 200 years old," Ms Gallagher said on 25 May.

"Treaty is an opportunity for every single non-Indigenous person to strengthen their knowledge of, and appreciation for, Aboriginal cultures. After all, we are the oldest continuing culture on Earth."

Enrolments will be vetted, including requirements of photo identification with date of birth.

The First People's Assembly will replace the Treaty Advancement Commission and work with the state government to prepare for negotiations, including ground rules.

As well as dropping the voting age to 16, voting is possible online as well as in person or by the post.

The process for an Indigenous treaty in Victoria has been underway since February 2016.

Victoria is the first state in Australia to enter into formal treaty negotiations with Aboriginal Australians.

First Peoples' assembly vote

May 10 - enrolment opens

May 27 - candidate nominations open

August 16 - candidate nominations close

September 16 - voting opens

Who can vote? Aboriginal Victorians from age 16 and traditional owners who no longer live in the state

What will be the makeup? Twenty-one members elected through a vote of Victorian Aboriginal communities, and 12 seats allocated to each formally-recognised traditional owner group.

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