Historic Statewide Gathering Shapes Next Steps on Journey Towards Treaty

Apr 12, 2024

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) pays tribute to Communities across Victoria for their enthusiasm and engagement in driving robust discussions at last weekend’s Statewide Treaty Gathering. 

The landmark three-day event was a cultural celebration and corroboree which saw communities come together, yarn about Treaty, share feedback and ideas, and help shape the next steps on the journey to Treaty.

VACCHO CEO Dr Jill Gallagher AO delivered a powerful keynote address on the opening day, sharing her vision of the “monumental and transformative” impacts Treaty can deliver for Aboriginal Communities.

Dr Gallagher’s Grasping the opportunities of Treaty: A historical perspective address paid tribute to Aboriginal Elders and ancestors for their resilience and staunch leadership and advocacy which has led Communities to being on the cusp of negotiating Treaties.

First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria co-Chairs Ngarra Murray and Rueben Berg delivered impassioned speeches with Ms. Murray declaring that in coming months “we’ll need Community more than ever.”

Mr. Berg emphasised that Treaty could help “level the playing field, so everyone, First Pepples and newer Australians can make a better future together.”

Day 2 featured a formidable panel of ACCO leaders including Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) CEO Nerita Waight, Aboriginal Advancement League CEO Dr Esmerelda Bamblett, Winda Mara Chairperson Uncle Mookeye Bell, VACCHO CEO Dr Jill Gallagher AO and Wathaurong CEO Simon Flagg (pictured above. Photo by Matt Kidd ) . The insightful panel discussion showcased the vital role of ACCOs in providing services within an environment where Aboriginal culture is celebrated, with the panel also sharing their aspirations for the Treaty process at the local, regional, and statewide level.

Other highlights of the event included a conversation with five members of the newly established Treaty Authority, an in-depth session delving into the about the stories, reflections, insights and solutions arising from the Yoorrook hearings with Yoorrook Truth-telling Commissioner Travis Lovett, and the Strength in unity, power in diversity discussion with Guest speaker Tony McAvoy SC.

VACCHO CEO Dr Jill Gallagher AO speaks at the Statewide Treaty Gathering in April 2024 (Photo by: Leroy Miller)

VACCHO CEO Dr Jill Gallagher AO said that being in the presence of strong leaders, representing Communities from across the state, filled her with a renewed sense of strength and joy.

“Treaty will secure the future of our next generation. Treaty is about our Communities’ resilience, determination, and fearlessness to continue to power forward – not just to survive – but to thrive.”

“As Aboriginal Communities we need to be strong, we need to be brave, and we must seize this opportunity to power forward and forge thriving, culturally rich Communities.”

“Treaty represents a monumental opportunity to ensure future generations have the opportunity to flourish, but it’s also a chance for all Victorians to create a better future together as equals.”

“Treaty has the transformative power of sharing the great gift of 65,000 years of rich Aboriginal culture with all Victorians.”

“I dream of being part of a society where all Victorians both Aboriginal and non-Indigenous, can celebrate and enjoy the many benefits that come with being part of one of the world’s oldest living cultures – Treaty can make that dream a reality.”

VACCHO sincerely thanks the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria and co-Chairs Ngarra Murray and Rueben Berg for their unwavering leadership and dedication, and for their efforts facilitating a hugely successful Treaty Statewide Gathering.

Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email communications@vaccho.org.au or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.


VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.