WHAT IS A TREATY?

A Treaty is an agreement between states, nations or governments, and can include an agreement between Indigenous peoples and governments. Australia is the only Commonwealth country that does not have a treaty with its First Nations Peoples. 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.

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the victorian context

In February 2016 the Victorian Government committed to advancing self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians by working towards Australia's first Treaty/ies with First Nations Peoples. 

The Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 was introduced by the Labor Government in early 2018 and successfully passed through the Victorian Parliament on 21st June 2018.

The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission began operation in January 2018, following the appointment of Jill Gallagher AO as Commissioner. The Commission is undertaking community consultations around the State and will oversee the establishment of an Aboriginal Representative Body to negotiate with the Government.

Find out about future opportunities to hear from the Commissioner.

For further information including Aboriginal perspectives on Treaty in Victoria visit:
- Aboriginal Community Assembly Portal
- Aboriginal Victoria Treaty website
- Victorian Greens Treaty Now campaign for Clans-based treaties
- Traditional Owner Land Justice Group fundraising for a Clan Elders Council Treaty Gathering
- Response/call from Federation of Victoria Traditional Owner Corporations

CALLS FOR A NATIONAL TREATY

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been calling for treaty/ies for many decades. Negotiation of treaties and agreements by all governments and parliaments were recommendations of the final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000.

The First Nations National Constitutional Convention in 2017 brought together 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and led to the Statement from the Heart, which includes the following: 

“Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.” 

The Federal Government initially rejected the Statement. They have since formed another Joint Select Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, co-chaired by Pat Dodson, which will consider the calls in the Statement and will report to Parliament at the end of the year on progressing Constitutional Reform. 

A number of other jurisdictions are progressing their own treaty and agreement making processes, and looking to Victoria with interest. The South Australian Government had commenced treaty negotiations with Traditional Owners before a change of government paused negotiations until outcomes of a review, and discussions are also underway in the Northern Territory and Queensland.