• The Merindas performed at the Future Dreaming Festival, alongside Dallas Woods, Electric Fields, and Benny Walker. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The votes for the Victorian Treaty First Peoples' Assembly kept coming during a music festival put on by the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission on Saturday.
Madeline Hayman-Reber

21 Oct 2019 - 6:11 PM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2019 - 6:26 PM

Voting to decide the make-up of the representative body to continue the Victorian Treaty process officially concluded on Sunday.

The First People's Assembly will be made up of 21 members elected from five regions across the state; 9 members from the Metro region and 4 in each of the South West, South East, North West and North East.

Despite criticism from some community members about low enrolment numbers - voter turnout was around 10 per cent of what the Treaty Commission estimates as about 30,000 eligible voters - Commissioner Jill Gallagher said the voting process for The Assembly was a successful start.

"It’s not about a number... It’s about taking the next step towards achieving justice for our mobs," Ms Gallagher recently told NITV News.

"Given the scale of poverty, mental health, drug and alcohol and homelessness our mob deal with, our communities have done well to enrol to this degree.”

On Saturday, the Treaty Commission held a youth-focused festival in Melbourne to encourage last minute voters to have their say before voting officially closed on Sunday night.

'This is groundbreaking': Voting open for Victoria's treaty assembly
Voting is open for eligible Victorian Aboriginals to elect their representatives for the First People's Assembly, which will work towards a treaty.

The Future Dreaming Festival was attended by hundreds of community members and included a mini-market for Indigenous artists and businesses in addition to a stellar line-up that included Electric Fields, The Merindas, and Dallas Woods.

"There's not an event like this around where mob get to come together and enjoy music, enjoy a feed and also come and cast their vote for the Treaty," event MC and Gunditjmara man Christopher Saunders said on the day.

"I've voted... My view of the future is that I want my kids to be able to have something to look at and say 'my dad was a part of that.'" 

Ms Gallagher said that she hopes the festival will become a regular event to showcase and share First Nations culture in the state.

"It got me thinking, maybe The Assembly will get together next year and look at running a bigger party in nicer weather where non-Aboriginal people can come and experience culture too."

On Monday, candidates were informed via email that votes would begin to be sorted and verified by mid-week, with counting to commence on Thursday, October 31.

Candidates have also been informed that they may appoint one scrutineer to be present for the return processing, validation and counting of votes.

Elected members are expected to be announced early November.

Victoria's treaty vote is almost 250 years in the making
Voting is about to begin for an elected body to represent Victoria's Indigenous people and help establish rules for treaty negotiations with the government.