Last month, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein appointed former Governor Kate Warner AC and law professor Tim McCormack to consult with the state’s First Nations people on reconciliation and truth telling.
The pair have been travelling around Tasmania, listening to First Nations people to better understand what a pathway to treaty would consist of and how best to take the next steps towards reconciliation.
Some of the issues being discussed during these meetings, include understanding what has happened in Tasmania in the past, looking at historical land returns and the possibility of land returns into the future, understanding what is happening in relation to dual naming, initiatives to change the state constitution to recognise Tasmania’s Aboriginal people as the first people, and looking at how other jurisdictions around the country are responding to these issues.
Professor Kate Warner will provide a report to Government by October this year with recommendations from those discussions as well as the views of Tasmanian Aboriginal people on a Truth Telling process.
Professor Warner says while three months is not a lot of time to report on such a wide range issues, she says Premier Gutwein is eager to get the process underway and move on to the next stages, which she presumes would be Aboriginal led.
Professor Tim McCormack says their role is not to solve these complex issues or negotiate the terms of a Treaty, but to identify and articulate to the Premier what it is the Tasmanian Aboriginal people want themselves.
The pair have also been tasked with looking at what progress Tasmania has made in relation to reconciliation – what steps have been taken, and what that means to the First Nations people of Tasmania.
Both, Professor McCormack, and Professor Warner say they are pleased by the widespread enthusiasm of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.
“That’s really encouraging to us”, said Tim.
“Many of the Aboriginal people we have spoken with so far, see it as a wonderful opportunity, and want to make the most of it,” said Kate.