AN INDIGENOUS leader says difficult conversations are welcome as state parliament edges closure to allowing an independent Treaty umpire.
Raylene Harradine represents an area stretching from Bendigo to Mildura at the First Peoples' Assembly, the elected body laying the groundwork for Victoria's landmark Indigenous Treaty negotiations.
The assembly met late last week after Victorian premier Daniel Andrews signed a milestone agreement on a Treaty authority capable of settling disputes between the state and Indigenous people.
The agreement still needs to pass Parliament, where the opposition is hesitant to declare a position on the Treaty authority.
Coalition leader Matthew Guy is looking over details of the legislation and consulting with Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Walsh.
Some opposition members have questioned whether another independent authority is needed, or whether those are matters best left to the parliament.
Ms Harradine hoped parliament would give its tick to a Treaty authority independent of government.
"But I don't have a crystal ball," she said.
"We've got to this stage and the Victorian government has signed off on it, so that can only be a positive thing."
Last May, the Coalition agreed to a broader Treaty process.
One reason for ongoing uncertainty is that so much still needs to be worked out before negotiations begin in earnest.
The First Peoples' Assembly itself is yet to lock in its position on a host of issues.
Its 31 members gathered on Thursday and Friday to discuss the Treaty authority as well as details of a fund Indigenous groups would use to finance negotiations.
It is too soon to say if the fund's framework will be finished before Victoria's election in November, Ms Harradine said.
She has encouraged people to form their own perspectives on the Treaty process.
"Everyone needs to have investment in what we are doing," Ms Harradine said.
"We [the First Peoples' Assembly] are just the elected body to do and research things."
Ms Harradine said feedback could be positive or negative.
"Some people will have their own views about what this means, but ultimately it is life-changing for Australia," she said.
"Change is hard, even for me.
"But when you think about what it means for our future, then it becomes about the legacy we want to leave for us Indigenous people, and the non-Aboriginal people who are part of this process."
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