The Queensland Government has announced it will introduce legislation next week to progress work on a treaty with the state’s First Nations people.
The legislation will pave the way for a Truth Telling and Healing Inquiry and a First Nations Treaty Institute.
The inquiry will focus on historic incidents and will have some elements of a royal commission.
How are other states and territories progressing?
Treaty discussions are expected to begin again in 2023. The government and three Indigenous nations began discussions in 2017 and culminated in the Buthera Agreement between the Narungga Nation and the government.
Treaty negotiations will begin in 2023 after the government signed a deal with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. The Andrews government has allocated $65 million over three years for a self-determination fund to help traditional owners prepare for the talks.
Tasmania’s government says there is broad support a truth-telling and treaty process. Feedback from Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations said this must be led by Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The government has invited representatives from Aboriginal community organisations to provide advice on the establishment of the Aboriginal Advisory body.
The NSW Greens have proposed a truth-telling and treaty process and giving First Nations people a representative in state parliament. They will use the next term of parliament to pursue this after the NSW election. NSW Labor will commit to treaty discussions if elected in the March election. They will commit $5 million towards a year-long consultation and treaty talks will begin after the voice referendum.
Western Australia has not committed to a treaty process. The Noongar Agreement, which formally started February 25, 2021, recognises the Noongar people as traditional owners of the land and their continued relationship with country. Six Indigenous land use agreements were authorised under the agreement.
NT and ACT
The NT government is committed to continuing the treaty process and will hold forums to ascertain whether Aboriginal Territorians agree with an independent NT Treaty Commissions recommendations. The NT Treaty Commission was abolished in December by Territory Aboriginal Affairs Minister Selena Uibo. Further work will be undertaken by a new unit within government and consultations are expected to run for the next two years.
Treaty discussions are ongoing in the ACT after the government allocated $317,000 in the 2021-22 budget to facilitate conversation with traditional owners about the treaty’s meaning and its processes.