As Victoria takes important steps forward in its first Treaty, The Victorian Connection takes the opportunity to interview a member of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, Tracey Evans.
Tracey is a Gunditjmara/Bundjalung woman and one of nine Executive Directors of the Assembly. She is Secretary of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, all of which she achieved after being elected by community. She also works at the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions in the Aboriginal Economic Development branch.
After growing up in a disadvantaged community in Melbourne, Tracey felt she had something to contribute through her life experiences. She also aspired to become an emerging leader and strong voice for her community.
For Tracey, Treaty is all about her people and creating a future with greater opportunities for all. It’s also about hope and making right some of the wrongs in history.
“It provides the opportunity of self-determination for Aboriginal people and recognition of Traditional Owners,” she says.
“It’s also an opportunity to sit at the table with government and feel equal – which is an important step forward.”
As part of Tracey’s achievement of becoming a member of the Assembly she was required to present a maiden speech at Parliament House in December 2019. Tracey was joined by her sister to support her on the day.
“One of my older sisters accompanied me and other members of our family and community were in attendance. My sister was quietly proud – she smiled and did a thumbs up from the gallery.”
The opportunity to share her culture with community is important to Tracey and she is particularly focused on engaging with young people.
“Culture is a lifelong learning. I’ve been lucky enough to be raised by some strong elders. I’ve been blessed to be strong on culture. It’s something that I share with young people and my community,” she says.
Tracey says she’s looking forward to working with the other members of the Assembly and seeing members of the community use their voice to make an impact.
“I’m also looking forward to the community being involved, my kids being able to say what they want and have a voice.” she says.
“This is history in the making … Be involved, be active, speak to your local Assembly member, have a say, learn what Treaty can achieve and has achieved in other countries.”
She says the more Aboriginal people know, the more their voice will be heard. But it shouldn’t just be Aboriginal Victorians getting involved. Tracey encourages the non-Aboriginal community to learn as much as it can about Treaty and why it’s important to her people.