July 15, 2019
The State Government has begun a process which it says will eventually lead to negotiated treaties with Indigenous Queenslanders.
To mark the end of NAIDOC Week, the State Government signed an historic Statement of Commitment as part of a “Tracks to Treaty” initiative which aims to reframe the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said developing the Path to Treaty element of the initiative was a significant step forward in the Reconciliation journey.
“Today the Queensland Government commits to taking the next steps in this journey to engage with the community on developing a process for State-wide agreement making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Tracks to Treaty marks a monumental reform journey at the local, regional and statewide level in Queensland. It promotes and supports self-determination, truth-telling, local decision making, and better life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
“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.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Jackie Trad said Queensland was ready to have a conversation about Treaty.
“As a State we have led the nation with reform that acknowledges past injustices and recognises and celebrates the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Trad said.
“Whether it’s the historic 1993 Mabo case, which brought about Native Title laws in Australia, the Queensland Parliament apology to the Stolen Generations in 1999, or the 2010 amendment to the preamble of the Queensland Constitution to honour Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians, Queensland has always been front and centre of the conversation about recognising and advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
“We hope that this process goes some way to right the wrongs of the past and sets the foundation for a new and just relationship towards our shared future.
“In the coming weeks we will release a discussion paper to provide an opportunity for Queenslanders to have their say on this important journey.”
Mick Gooda, former Chair of the Reparations Taskforce, said Path to Treaty built on the earlier work of the Reparations Taskforce, and acknowledged the willingness to move forward together with mutual respect, recognition and openness to speak the truth about our shared history.
“The Path to Treaty is about community engagement and ownership at its core, and having that drive our future relationship,” said Mr Gooda.
“It’s about talking to the community and understanding what’s important to them, because a treaty might mean different things for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and the broader Queensland community.”
A panel, co-chaired by Indigenous historian Dr Jackie Huggins and former Attorney-General Michael Lavarch, will provide leadership to deliver on the commitment.
A Treaty Working Group will lead State-wide consultation and engagement beginning in the second half of 2019, as part of developing the Path to Treaty process.
Ms Trad said the Tracks to Treaty initiative also included implementation of the Local Thriving Communities reform, which sought to improve government service delivery, governance, and economic opportunities starting in 19 remote and discrete communities.
“We know that the current service delivery system is not working as well as it should. Bureaucratic processes can be cumbersome and delivery mechanisms sometimes hinder rather than facilitate and enable outcomes,” she said.
“The Queensland Government is committed to making this right, to working with local communities to promote self-determination and local community development.
“Local Thriving Communities embeds structural and cultural change that will fundamentally change the way that the Queensland Government does business with communities.
“This means working in genuine partnership with individual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to identify and implement workable solutions tailored to the priorities, goals and leadership structures in each community.
“The Local Thriving Communities program will not be a one-size-fits-all model.
“We are under no illusions about what is required to succeed, and we expect that we will have to work through challenges along the way. If this was easy – it would have been done already.
“I am committed to working closely with mayors, community leaders, stakeholders and the communities to deliver on the Local Thriving Communities agenda.