On Saturday June 3, along with other volunteers and festival goers, I had the pleasure of attending Treaty Day Out, with Bank Australia supporting this year’s festivities.
Treaty Day Out is a festival organised by the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria to raise awareness and support for the journey towards Treaty in Victoria, mark the final day of voting in Assembly Elections, and bolster First Nations artists. This year’s festival was held at Burnley Circus Park in Naarm (Melbourne) and follows the success of similar events in Shepparton and Bendigo in previous years. It was a day full of music, dance, food, culture as well as an opportunity for First Nations people and allies to come together in community.
The festival was opened with a traditional Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson. A fire was lit between the two stages everyone was invited to step closer and cleanse themselves in the smoke. There was also a second Welcome to Country later in the day from Mandy Nicholson, a proud Wurundjeri woman. Nicholson spoke about the importance of Treaty in Victoria and reflected on the deep connection First Nations people have to the land, waterways, and sky. She also performed a range of traditional dances and songs, which were incredibly powerful to witness.
After the Welcome to Country, the festival got underway. There was a wide variety of performances on the main stage, including music from Jessica Mauboy, Thelma Plum, Dan Sultan, Electric Fields, Alice Skye, Marlon X Rulla, Scott Darlow, Madi Colville-Walker, and Australian icons Yothu Yindi.
In addition to the performances, there were a number of other activities and events at the festival. There was a marketplace where First Nations artists and businesses could sell their products, a children's area with activities, games, and entertainment, as well as a final opportunity for First Nations people to enrol and vote in the First Peoples' Assembly election.
I was also able to learn more about the election process for the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria. The Assembly is a democratically elected body that represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria. The Assembly believes that it is time to negotiate treaties between First Nations people and the Government of Victoria, and they are working to establish the foundations for this. I spoke with a number of people who were involved in the election process, and they all stressed the importance of engaging as many people as possible and the importance of empowering First Nations people to have a say in their say in decisions that will shape their future.
I am grateful to the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria for organising such a wonderful event and to Bank Australia for giving me the opportunity to experience everything Treaty Day Out had to offer.
I hope that the festival will only continue to flourish in the future and open a dialogue for these important movements led by First Nations people in Victoria and Australia as a whole.