The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission has announced a series of changes to the Treaty process, including allowing Victorian Traditional Owners from outside the state the right to vote for the Aboriginal Representative Body (ARB).
Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO said the decision was made following the state-wide Treaty forum held in September last year.
“It was very loud and clear that design of our body didn't allow for Aboriginal people who are traditional owners from Victoria to participate in these elections,” Ms Gallagher told NITV News.
“The [electoral] borders were very strict ... if you didn't live in Victoria, you couldn't participate; we heard loud and clear from the community that that's unacceptable. Now, if you're an Aboriginal person living outside of Victoria, whether you live in WA or whether you live overseas, you can participate in these elections.”
Traditional Owners nominating to run as a candidate to represent their mob as part of the ARB will still need to be living within the area they wish to represent, but voting will be open to all Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
Traditional Owners living outside of VIC will also need to provide proof of their ancestry to the Commission with a letter from a formally recognised community organisation in order to be eligible to vote.
A verification of Aboriginality process has not yet been made clear, but the Commission said they believe it is unlikely people will seek to falsely identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander for the purpose of voting.
The ARB itself has also been given a name: the First People’s Assembly of Victoria, or The Assembly for short.
Ms Gallagher said she worked alongside the Aboriginal Working Group and other members of staff to come up with it.
“I think it's a strong name. I think it reflects First Peoples, that's why in the title it's first, and it's about coming together as a powerful body,” she said.
The Commission has called upon the public to create a new logo to accompany the new name, with a prize of $15,000 to be awarded to the winner.
“We want the Victorian Aboriginal community to help us design that," Ms Gallagher said. "We want a very strong, powerful logo that reflects Victorian Aboriginal communities today, and also Victorian Aboriginal cultures, both ancient and contemporary."
More about the logo competition can be found at the Treaty Advancement Commission’s website.