FOOTBALL and netball may have been the attraction but it was also a deeper cause that was the glue bringing together more than 5,000 people across Ballarat on the weekend.
The Ballarat region played host to over 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander football and netball players and supporters as part of the 2019 VACSAL (Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited) Senior Football and Netball Carnival.
While the main focus was on the football fields at Marty Busch Reserve, Sebastopol and netball courts at the Ballarat Sports & Events Centre, a definite “hot-spot” was the Victorian Treaty tent.
There, staff from the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission talked one-on-one with Victorian Aboriginal people about the current treaty process taking place between the Victorian State Government and Traditional Owners.
Key to that process is an election for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
The election, which is taking place between 16 September and 20 October, will result in an assembly of 32 Victorian Traditional Owners who will be responsible for establishing a treaty framework, self-determination fund and treaty authority (umpire) body.
“Having so many of our mob in the one place at the one time is really important,” Commissioner Jill Gallagher told the Ballarat Courier.
“It gives us the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with our people and answer the huge number of questions about treaty – or treaties – in Victoria.”
“The overall response [to the treaty process] from across the state is exciting,” she said. “There’s a real sense of hope!”
With approximately 50,000 Aboriginal people living in Victoria and an estimated 30,000 eligible to enrol and vote, the Commissioner expressed delight at the number of people who took the opportunity to enrol and vote over the weekend.
For more information on the current election, including voter eligibility, visit www.firstpeoplesvic.org or call 1800 TREATY (1800 873 289).