We can all work to make this a path to genuine self-determination
A Path to Treaty
Also read ANTaR National’s Fact Sheet (on Resources and Links and via https://antar.org.au/resources/treaty-in-qld/ )
A genuine treaty or treaties, at national and state levels, and grounded in many concrete agreements at council or local levels, could be a critical step in fully recognising First Peoples, in reframing the fundamental relations underpinning Australia, and in enabling genuine and just participation and voice for First Peoples.
A Rough Timeline:
Following discussion between authoritative figures among both First Peoples in Queensland and within the Queensland Government, the Government launched policy framework Tracks to Treaty on 19 July 2019. Tracks to Treaty ‘seeks to give effect to the commitment to a reframed relationship with First Nations Queenslanders’ (Queensland Government Response to the Treaty Advancement Report, 2022, 1) and has two parts: Local Thriving Communities and Path to Treaty. Information on Local Thriving Communities can be found at https://www.dsdsatsip.qld.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-partnerships/reconciliation-tracks-treaty/tracks-treaty/local-thriving-communities
An Eminent Panel of Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Mr Mick Gooda, Emeritus Prof the Hon Michael Lavarch AO, Dr Josephine Bourne and Dr Sallyanne Atkinson AO was established to make recommendations on next steps for the Paths to Treaty. The Eminent Panel conducted a series of community consultations reaching approximately 1700 people and produced a substantial and powerful report (Report from the Treaty Working Group, February 2020, available on the resources and links page). The COVID pandemic meant further, ongoing consultation was not possible. The Government released its response to the report in August 2020 (on Resources and Links) accepting the Report’s recommendations in full or in principle.
In early 2021 the Government set up a Treaty Advancement Committee, again made up of prominent Murri and non-Indigenous Queenslanders, undertook further consultations and produced a report (Treaty Advancement Committee Report (PDF)) in October (also on the Resources and Links page). The Government committed $300 million (as an invested fund which cannot be used for any other purpose), which Dr Huggins welcomed as very generous, but due to COVID delays did not formally respond to the Report until August the following year. (Queensland Government Response to the recommendations of the Treaty Advancement Committee report (PDF) also on Resources and Links.)
Leading its response to the Committee Report, the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and responsible Minister Craig Crawford signed the Queensland Path to Treaty Commitment with the Co-Chairs of the Treaty Advancement Committee, Dr Jackie Huggins AM and Mr Mick Gooda in a moving ceremony at Parliament House. The Statement of Commitment can be found here: https://www.qld.gov.au/firstnations/treaty/queenslands-path-to-treaty-commitment
The Government states that the Commitment ‘signifies a collective pledge to be courageous and curious, to be open to hearing the truth of our state’s history, and to collaborate in readiness for negotiating treaties’. We need to ensure the Government stands by this commitment to explore what ‘co-existing sovereignties’ might mean in the Queensland context, and to giving real meaning to self-determination for Murri communities in matters such as health, education, policing, and housing.
The Government also established an Interim Truth and Treaty Body. The full list of panel members can be found at https://www.truthandtreatyqld.org.au/about/meet-board
In May 2023, the Path to Treaty Bill was passed by the Queensland Parliament. See also Path to Treaty Explanatory Memorandum at: https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/tp/2023/5723T177-4ABF.pdf
Submissions associated with ANTaR Queensland can be found on the Resources and Links page.
Broadly in line with recommendations from earlier reports, the Bill provides the legislative framework to establish the structures to lay the groundwork for negotiating a treaty or treaties between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Government. This structure is made up of two elements:
- A First Nations Treaty Institute. The Bills Explanatory Note describes the goal of the Institute as ‘to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop and provide a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prepare for and then commence treaty negotiations with the Queensland Government’.
- A Truth-telling and Healing Inquiry ‘to inquire into, and report on, the effects of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.
A State Government Office will support discussion and information among non-Indigenous Queenslanders, but all solidarity and reconciliation bodies can play a role in this effort.
Overall, the Government so far has struggled with building and maintaining a working communications practice. This may in part reflect a desire not to confuse discussion around the federal Voice to Parliament referendum, scheduled for late 2023.
Queensland Government Commitment Statement: https://www.dsdsatsip.qld.gov.au/resources/dsdsatsip/work/atsip/reform-tracks-treaty/path-treaty/treaty-commitment-statement.pdf
Read about Path to Treaty, what a treaty is and how truth-telling and healing will help all Queenslanders to understand what a treaty means for Queensland.
Download resources below for more information.
- Path to Treaty brochure
- Truth-telling and healing fact sheet
- What is a treaty? fact sheet
- Read the latest and previous editions of Treaty News