What is a treaty?

Australia is the only Commonwealth Country to have not entered into treaty processes with the First Peoples of the land.

"A ‘treaty’ is an agreement between states, nations or governments, and can include an agreement between Indigenous peoples and governments. A treaty can contain statements of principle, guidelines for future relationships, reparations for past injustices, and guarantees and promises about Indigenous land, sovereignty and identity. It can combine elements of existing historic and modern treaties, and can talk about the past as well as make commitments for the future." (Treaty Fact Sheet)

Reconciliation Victoria's Position Statement on Treaty and Constitutional Recognition

Reconciliation Victoria supports the calls of the Aboriginal community in Victoria for the long-overdue negotiation of a Treaty, and commends the Victorian Government for its commitment to enter into these discussions. We are excited by these developments.

It is our understanding that both state-based Treaty discussions and the national constitutional reform agenda can be progressed alongside each other. Both will represent significant milestones in our country’s history, but they must be informed by the diverse voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples if they are to be achieved. 

Please follow this link for our full position statement

So, where are things at?

In late February 2016 the Victorian Government committed to advancing self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians by working towards Australia's first treaty with First Nations Peoples.  This commitment was announced on back of the Victorian Open Aboriginal Community Meeting, at which a motion was passed calling for Treaties to be negotiated. Reconciliation Victoria has a summary of this meeting, including our response. 

Premier Daniel Andrew's stated: Victoria’s treaty with Aboriginal Victorians will be the first of its kind in our nation’s history. And Aboriginal people will lead this change."

The Treaty Interim Working Group conducted 16 community consultation events across Victoria in 2016. The Working Group reported back at a State-Wide Forum in December 2016 & an Interim Report was released in February 2017. 

On 28 April 2017, a statewide forum was held in Melbourne, detailing the outcomes of the consultations to date and to discuss the next steps. At the forum, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, announced that the 2017-18 Victorian State Budget would pro-vide $28.5 million to support the treaty process over the next four years, out of a total of $68.2 million towards Aboriginal self-determination. This funding includes further consultation on treaty and the development of a new Aboriginal representative body. Some concerns have been raised during the consultation period and at the state wide forum by community members about the current process and engagement.  

Following the significant funding announcement in April 2017 made at the Statewide Forum, two ‘Aboriginal Community Consultations Reports’ were released on the 29th June.  The reports include a detailed analysis of the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group’s preferred legal structure - a company limited by guarantee - along with the other legal structures that were considered in depth. The overarching principle, decided through community consultations, is that the representative body be democratic, independent from government, and able to authorise treaty/treaties.

There is a summary and full report available on Aboriginal Victoria's Treaty website.

On Aug 8, 2017 Taungurung Traditional Owner Mick Harding became the first Aboriginal person in history to address the Victorian Cabinet. Mr Harding, the Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group together with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins, presented an update to Cabinet on the work towards a Treaty with Victoria’s Traditional Owners. 

The Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group will soon be setting up an Aboriginal Community Assembly to provide recommendations on the remaining design elements of the representative body. This is currently in development - more information will be provided once it is finalised. Visit AV’s website for more information. 

The current proposed timeline is a 3 step process, as presented in the Treaty Circles Handbook is as follows:

Step 1: Establish a Representative Body (within the next 18 months)

Step 2: Consult on what is a Treaty 

Step 3: Negotiate Treaty/Treaties (beginning in 2019, this may take many years)

November 2017

Aboriginal Community Assembly

In November Victoria took another step towards Treaty with the first meeting of the Aboriginal Community Assembly in Melbourne.

Over six days across November and December, the Community Assembly will discuss the design of the Aboriginal Representative Body, a crucial next step in the Treaty process.

The Assembly is made up of a diverse range of Aboriginal Victorians – from youth to respected elders, as well as Traditional Owner groups – and bring unique skills, life experiences and knowledge to the Assembly.

Of the 33 member group, 13 live in metropolitan Melbourne and 20 live in regional Victoria. The group has release two statements about their work to date.

The Assembly will provide recommendations to the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group on the Representative Body’s structure, representation and governance.

The launch of the Assembly builds on three state-wide forums and 16 community consultations, which have engaged 7,500 Aboriginal Victorians over the last 18 months.

The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission will be established in early 2018 and will work closely with the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group and the Victorian Aboriginal community to guide the establishment of the Aboriginal Representative Body.


December 2017

Jill Gallagher named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner (12/12/17)

Ms Gallagher AO, a Gunditjmara woman from Western Victoria who has worked within, led and advocated for the Victorian Aboriginal community all her life, this week was named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner. 

The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner is a newly created role entrusted with taking the lead in preparing to negotiate the first ever treaty between Aboriginal people and an Australian government.

Read more

Message from the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group (20/12/17):

"The Aboriginal Treaty Working Group welcomes the Aboriginal Community Assembly’s recommendations on the design of a Victorian Aboriginal Representative Body and thanks the Assembly for its tremendous work for all Aboriginal Victorians".  Read full message here

For more information, visit the Aboriginal Victoria Treaty webpage and the Aboriginal Community Assembly portal.

Community Assembly Statement and Final Recommendations ( 22/12/17):

The Community Assembly has released its final recommendations to the Working Group. These recommendations will guide the design of the Representative Body, and respond to the five questions posed to the Community Assembly.

"We, the Aboriginal Community Assembly acknowledge the traditional lands and waters of the Sovereign Aboriginal people of Victoria. We recognise our Sovereignty over those lands and waters has never been ceded.

We acknowledge our Ancestors, Elders and Communities who have been at the forefront of our thoughts throughout this entire process. We reflect on the history of our shared survival and our spirit of resilience.

We present to the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group our recommendations to consider and act upon. Our recommendations answer all five questions we were tasked with were developed through robust deliberation and debate.

This process enabled our voices to be heard and our views to be made clear. We hope this opportunity extends to more of our Community so that this Representative Body is truly our  Representative Body.

It was our honour and privilege to be a part of this historic process."

You can read the recommendations and the Community Assembly's other statements here

Visit our Victorian Context tab for more information.

Latest News & Events


Wendy Caccetta, "Victoria takes a step closer to state treaty" (National Indigenous Times, May 3, 2017)

"Aboriginal Tasmanians to argue for a national treaty" (AM, ABC Radio, May 22)

"Treaty or Constitututional Recognition?" Speaking Out with Larissa Behrendt (ABC Radio, April 27)


For more news and events please visit our Latest News tab.