Photo Credit: Aboriginal Victoria 2016
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.
The Treaty Interim Working Group is tasked with consulting Aboriginal people in Victoria and advising the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the development of treaty/treaties framework, and a broader self-determination agenda including a permanent Victorian Aboriginal representative body. The first priority is the development of a representative body, this will be a significant step towards entering into negotiations with the Victorian government on treaty.
The 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 this year. The final consultations for the design and creation of a representative body to help facilitate the negotiation of Treaty/Treaties have begun with consultations across the state being held in March. Find out more at about the Aboriginal community engagement process Here and learn more about the Results of Consultations.
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)
"The role of the representative body is to represent, advocate, educate, develop a State-wide Treaty negotiation framework and engage with community and government about Treaty/Treaties. Only Traditional Owners can negotiate local Treaties for their country, supported by a State-wide Treaty negotiation framework." (Treaty Circle Facilitator Handbook)
From community consultations across the state 8 design principles were developed: Practical; Inclusive Representation; Unity; Culturally Based; Transparent and Accountable; Skills-based; Independent; and Clan based. These principles will be used to develop and assess options for the establishment of a Representative Body.
Clear themes about the role and function of the representative body were also developed through the consultations: Advocate; Unification of Community; Represent; Cultural Driver; Policy Creation; Investment and Planning for the Future; Educate; Dispute Resolution; and Negotiate treaty.