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'There's still a lot of "us" and "them".' The importance of Victoria's Indigenous treaty.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers. 

"A lot of people may have the idea that we have resentment, and we want revenge. No, that’s absolutely incorrect."

Noongar woman Courtney Ugle is part of the Victorian Government’s Deadly and Proud campaign, aimed at highlighting the state’s historic path to drafting a treaty with their Aboriginal community. 

Right now, Australia is the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its Indigenous peoples. Whilst there is no national movement to rectify this, Victoria is currently on the brink of becoming the first state in Australia to sign a treaty. 

Watch: An indigenous woman answers the awkward questions she always gets asked. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

On Tuesday, the state government announced a "truth-telling" royal commission, which will provide an authoritative account of Victoria's history of colonisation and explore the historical and contemporary injustices. 

Ugle, who is a VFLW player, says she is proud to witness this moment in history and to help advocate for the unity of the nation. 

"I think if you look throughout history, there was a lot of 'us' and 'them'," she tells Mamamia. "We always talk about having a great future, creating a great future for our kids and the younger generations coming through. I think the best way to do that is to come together as one, no matter what race you’re from."

She adds that with the collaboration and cooperation of both Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people, an all-inclusive future can be achieved.

"We just want to live in our beautiful country," she continues. "We want to be able to share that with, not only Australia, but the whole world. We want to be able to live in traditional ways and have that really strong culture that we have running through our blood and be able to do that inclusively with the whole of Australia."

Ultimately, the treaty is designed to better the lives of Indigenous Australians, who are the most disadvantaged and marginalised group in the country.

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Ugle is particularly passionate about raising awareness around domestic and family violence – an issue that disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women compared to other Australian demographics.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence," she points out. "We are also 11 times more likely to be killed as a result of family or domestic violence than non-Indigenous woman."

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When Courtney Ugle was 19 years old, she lost her mother to domestic violence. 

"My siblings and I endured and experienced family violence from very young ages which still has an impact on us as adults today. When you experience trauma from a young age, you have a deep desire to not want anyone else to experience what you did. That is why I am passionate about this space," she says.

Ugle notes that it is the responsibility of all Australians to help stop the inequality and injustices suffered by our First Nation peoples. 

"Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is not an 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander problem'. Nor should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people bear sole responsibility for addressing it. This violence is a national problem, and can be perpetrated by people of all cultural backgrounds."

So how will the treaty help? 

Victoria’s treaty will likely include the recognition of past wrongs, acknowledgement of the unique position of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians in our state, and the enhancement of existing laws.

The government says the treaty will benefit all Victorians by fostering shared pride in Aboriginal cultures, helping to heal the wounds of the past, and establishing new relationships with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.

It will be shaped by history, the social and political context of the state, and the aspirations of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians, and non-Aboriginal Victorians.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.