Fronting the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Marcus Stewart, co-chair of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria and Nira illim bulluk man Marcus Stewart has called for greater timeframes for the truth-telling process.
Stewart was the fifth of six witnesses who were part of the first block of public hearings, or wurrek tyerrang, at Melbourne’s Charcoal Lane on Thursday, May 5.
The hearings asked about the lingering effects of colonization and those still being felt in the present, to be included in an interim report in June and a final report with the findings in July 2024.
“How do you reveal more than 200 years of colonization in a three-year period and the contemporary effects it still has today and will have tomorrow? I’m having a hard time understanding how that’s possible,” said Mr Stewart.
“The journey to the Treaty will continue for several more years – we will see negotiations statewide, we will see traditional owners, at the same time I can imagine…if not sooner.
“There will be an evolution of the negotiations that will take the treaty negotiations for another 10 years.”
In a 61-page testimony filed ahead of the hearing, he said that while the injustices of colonization could not be undone through the Treaty, it remained the only way Victoria could move forward.
“It’s about giving First Peoples a voice in governance that’s defining and not just advisory,” he said.
Mr Stewart said structural and systemic reforms are “critical” for both the Treaty and the telling of the truth.
“Most if not all Aboriginal people in the state of Victoria, if not the entire country, would be well aware of a history of broken promises from successive governments,” he said.
“Only the Treaty will be the dotted line – it will be signed by the Government and future governments to account for our shared future as Aboriginal people within Victoria, and that is where we find the crucial ingredient and nature of a statewide treaty.” see.”