Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Marcus Stewart were jointly shortlisted for the 2022 McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year for co-leading the state of Victoria through the historic process of reconciliation and treaty making, which will have long-lasting impact on the state.
The Shortlisting Committee recognised Atkinson, a Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, for her dedication to the empowerment of Indigenous peoples and her work to enshrine progress in legislation through the ratification of a treaty between Victorian government and Indigenous peoples of the state. Stewart, a Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, was acknowledged by the Committee for his work in Traditional Owners advocacy and in seeking to empower Indigenous peoples and drive for them to take up positions of influence.
The Committee noted in particular that Victoria is the first Australian jurisdiction to commit and action all elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart—Voice, Treaty and Truth, with the final steps in Victoria’s history-making treaty process signed off in October 2022. Further, the Committee recognised that both Atkinson and Stewart have faced significant political pressures from within their constituencies and the wider political context as they navigate a complex and nation-leading path towards First Nations recognition in Victoria.