National

Qld takes steps towards indigenous treaty

By AAP Newswire

Queensland is taking its first steps towards a treaty which would formally weave its indigenous culture into its plans for the future.

At the helm is Aboriginal academic and author Jackie Huggins.

She is co-chair of the panel consulting Queensland communities under a broader plan to negotiate treaties with the state's First Nations people.

"This is something that our community has been talking about for decades now, and to see that achieved would personally be a dream come true for me," Dr Huggins said.

"This process will take a long time, but I'm confident that future generations will carry it through."

Treaties are used to right past wrongs, and can redefine the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous Australia.

It also changes the relationship between governments and First Nations people, and removes obstacles to practising cultural customs such as hunting.

Australia is the only Commonwealth country without a treaty with its First Nations people.

In July, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced her government would begin its own treaty process, making Queensland the latest state behind Victoria and South Australia.

"It promotes and supports self-determination, truth-telling, local decision-making, and better life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders," she said at the time.

"We believe that a path to treaty will benefit all Queenslanders and help promote reconciliation, foster a shared pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and help heal the wounds of the past."

Dr Huggins, a Bidjara and Birri Gubba Juru woman, says negotiating a treaty or multiple treaties in Queensland will take years, but is critical to creating better opportunities for the next generation.

"It is your responsibility to carry on the legacy and do your very best to fight the injustice, and I think that's certainly handed down to younger people," Dr Huggins said.

"We will always have a job to do in Aboriginal affairs for the rest of our lives because there is still so much unfinished business to take care of."

Her panel co-chair, former Keating government attorney general Michael Lavarch, says squaring up to Australia's history of colonisation and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is crucial.

A strong desire for self-determination and local governance across law and other public sectors have been raised heavily in the panel's consultations.

"Generally, people want good outcomes for Aboriginal and Islander peoples and we all know it's not yet being achieved," Mr Lavarch said.