The Treaty Authority will soon be established in Victoria

Indigenous Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams said: “Treaty is about doing things differently. This is unprecedented cutting-edge work. We look forward to having more to say in the months to come.

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino, Indigenous Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams and Marcus Stewart at the Yoorrook Justice Commission announcement in March 2020. Credit:Simon Schluter

Mr Stewart said a treaty authority guided by the principles of self-determination would demonstrate that the state government was willing to give up some of its power and meet with First Nations people on neutral territory to begin with. to right the wrongs of often violent dispossession by British settlers.

“What is hugely important is that we build institutions that drive bureaucracy out of our lives,” Mr. Stewart said.

“Successive governments have not negotiated in good faith with traditional owners, and they have viewed funding as a blocking tactic to get the results they seek. Treaty authority is a circuit breaker, and it’s the great equalizer to hold everyone accountable.

Victoria is the only state or territory that has enacted both the treaty and truth elements of the Declaration of Heart Uluru – a 2017 manifesto that called for a commission to oversee a “deal-making” process between governments, widely understood to refer to treaties, and a truth process.

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In 2016, the Andrews government pledged to explore treaties and created the Indigenous Treaty Task Force, appointing Aunt Jill Gallagher, AO, as Victoria’s Independent Treaty Advancing Commissioner.

In mid-2018, Victoria’s Parliament passed the Advancing Victorian Treaty Process Act, which enshrined in law the election of the Victorian First Peoples Assembly and its role in establishing a framework for negotiating a treaty.

The assembly successfully negotiated the creation of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, the truth commission on the impacts of colonialism, racism and injustice on Indigenous people in Victoria. He also lobbied for the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme and negotiated an interim dispute resolution mechanism.

Assembly co-chair Geraldine Atkinson, an elder from Bangerang and Wiradjuri, said it was vital that the treaty authority embodies and upholds Indigenous traditions, laws and culture, and is completely independent of government in place.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams said the government had provided principled support for the creation of a treaty authority.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams said the government had provided principled support for the creation of a treaty authority. Credit:Simon Schluter

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“The government has told us they are ready to step outside the bounds of usual bureaucracy, but this discussion was the first real test of that commitment, so it is very encouraging that we have reached this stage together,” he said. she declared.

“There’s still a long way to go, but it helps when there’s a real acceptance that this journey needs to be led by First Peoples and grounded in our culture and way of doing things.

Opposition Indigenous Affairs critic Peter Walsh said the treaty-making process must demonstrate a clear commitment to the goals of Closing the Gap.

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