Opinion

State one step closer to treaty

By Shepparton News

On June 21 this year history was made when Australia’s first ever treaty legislation became law with the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill passing through the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament.

The passage of the legislation had Victoria become the first state in Australia to enter into formal treaty negotiations with its Aboriginal people.

Australia is still one of the only Commonwealth countries that does not have a treaty or treaties with its First Nations Peoples.

A treaty provides an opportunity for Victoria to hit the ‘‘reset button’’, to recast the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians and to recognise and celebrate the unique status, rights, cultures and histories of Aboriginal Victorians.

It presents an opportunity for meaningful reconciliation and to heal the wounds of the past.

The bill is the culmination of the work of more than 7500 Aboriginal community members, including traditional owners, clans and family groups, who have been engaged in work during the past 2 years, to further the treaty process in Victoria.

Consistent with the government’s policy of self-determination, the bill does not specify who the treaty is with or what it will be about.

Rather it requires an independent Aboriginal representative body and the Victorian Government to work in partnership to facilitate future treaty negotiations.

Community at heart

According to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins: ‘‘Treaty will have benefits for all Victorians — promoting reconciliation, fostering shared pride in Aboriginal culture and helping to heal the wounds of the past.’’

While a treaty is closer than at any point in Australia’s history, there is still considerable work to be done and conversations to be had.

Big decisions, such as who negotiates and what is on the table, have yet to be made.

These decisions will be made by the democratically-elected Aboriginal representative body and every Aboriginal person in Victoria can be involved in the process, by voting in the election of this body early next year.

The Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher will continue working with Victorian traditional owners, elders and young people to establish the Aboriginal representative body.

Ms Gallagher will also be talking with the Aboriginal community about its aspirations for the content of treaty or treaties.

The commission is hosting events to consult with and help inform the community across Victoria, including in the Loddon and Hume areas in July, and Gippsland next month, as well as in urban Melbourne (dates to be confirmed).

‘‘I want to hear the community’s aspirations for treaty or treaties,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

‘‘What’s happening is really significant.

‘‘It’s so important the community has the facts.

‘‘Community needs to be at the heart of this journey.’’

Ms Gallagher will be hosting two separate events in Shepparton on Wednesday next week.

Shepparton events

Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher is inviting Aboriginal people in the Shepparton area for a yarn about treaty.

●Learn about the journey to treaty;

●Get the facts about the future Aboriginal representative body;

●Make your mark on history with the possum-skin cloak; and

●Get your treaty t-shirt.

Aboriginal community gathering details: Wednesday, July 18, 2pm to 4pm, at The Parklake, 481 Wyndham St, Shepparton.

For more details, phone (03)86847537 or email [email protected]

Reconciliation Victoria, the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission and the City of Greater Shepparton invite you to a morning tea with Jill Gallagher.

This is an opportunity to hear from Commissioner Gallagher and to learn about the Treaty process in Victoria and the role of the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission.

This session is open to the general public and everyone is welcome: Wednesday, July 18, 9am to 10am, at The Parklake, 481 Wyndham St, Shepparton.

For catering purposes, RSVP by Thursday, July 12, by emailing [email protected] or phoning (03) 5832 9586.

To find out more about the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission’s work and itinerary, visit http://victreatyadvancement.org.au/

You can phone VTAC on (03) 8684 7537 or email [email protected]