National

Vic first indigenous assembly established

By AAP Newswire

Victoria's first indigenous assembly has been constituted in state parliament as the nation's most progressive treaty process makes strides.

With gumtrees, native shrubs and possum pelts ornamenting classic gold-leaf decorations and burgundy carpets, the first democratically-elected body of Aboriginal Victorians gathered in the upper house.

Initial chairperson, Wergaia elder Aunty Eleanor Bourke, was emotional as she spoke of how special it was to see elected members in the chamber for the first time.

"Something was in the air, it was more than love, it was a special moment for our people," Ms Bourke said.

Outgoing treaty commissioner Jill Gallagher reminded the assembly of its important work.

"We are once again at a powerful moment in our history and I believe the assembly will take its rightful place amongst these victories in our long struggle for true recognition," she said.

One community hasn't yet elected a representative but the remaining 31 voiced their goals for progressing treaty negotiations .

"All my people since colonisation have screamed for treaty and now the chance is finally here," Arrernte man Jordan Edwards said.

"I feel the lack of love for this process. I feel the lack of distrust in this process. A meeting of this magnitude should have been out in the bush but I understand that we are taking this place back."

Taungurung member Marcus Stewart and Bangerang member Geraldine Atkinson were chosen as co-chairs of the assembly.

It will set ground rules for negotiations with government.

Queensland and South Australia have also started making plans to work towards a treaty with Aboriginal people.

"This is an important moment in time - a step forward in a journey of healing and empowerment for Aboriginal Victorians," Victoria's Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings said of Tuesday's constitution.

"I'm honoured to declare the First People's Assembly of Victoria as the elected body for Aboriginal Victorians, the first of its kind in the state's history."

The assembly will continue for a second session on Wednesday.