The long path to a treaty in Qld begins. But what’s the first step?
17 July 2019 at 5:18 pm
Indigenous community organisations and leaders are waiting for answers from the Queensland government on what exactly the pathway to a treaty will look like, following a historic pledge by the state government.
Jackie Trad, the Queensland deputy-premier, launched the Tracks to Treaty commitment on Sunday, marking the final day of NAIDOC Week.
The process will reframe the state’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and pave a path to a treaty.
Today, our Government has started the journey towards treaties with First Nations Queenslanders. Tracks to #Treaty will help to put Qld on a stronger path toward meaningful, impactful partnerships based on the truth of our state’s history. More info: https://t.co/2qVJPOQnx3 pic.twitter.com/snIjUZHmY6
— Leeanne Enoch MP (@LeeanneEnoch) July 14, 2019
Aunty Heather Castledine, the co-chair of Reconciliation Queensland, told Pro Bono News that in her 17 years working on the issue, this was the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been given the opportunity for real change.
“This is not only about reconciliation, but a treaty as well and what that actually means,” Castledine said.
She said achieving a treaty meant helping people understand the history of Indigenous Australia and what it means to be an Indigenous person.
“There are masses and masses of people out there wanting to know and wanting to understand what that means and wanting to be able to be involved in it,” she said.
But she said the first step for Indigenous groups and leaders was to figure out what kind of funding they would receive for it, and where to even start.
“Thousands of people across Queensland have been funding reconciliation out of their own pockets until now, but we’ve got to find out if the Palaszczuk government’s behind it, or if the deputy premier is even behind it, in terms of funding,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful statement, but now we’ve got to figure out how we can hold them [the government] to account.”
She said all those affected needed to be consulted before any change was made.
“You just can’t say ‘Queensland’s going to do a treaty’. It doesn’t work like that because you’ve got to go out on the ground and talk to all the elder groups, to the emerging elders and the youth groups,” she said.
“It also means talking to non-Indigenous people, because it has to work both ways. You cannot work with only one cultural group agreeing on it.”
She said this would involve a number of conferences, gatherings, and discussions about what a treaty would actually mean, and how it would affect Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Trad made clear during the announcement that the path to a treaty would not be an easy one and expected it to take a number of years.
“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,” Trad said.
The path to treaty process will be led by a panel, co-chaired by Dr. Jackie Huggins AM and former Keating government attorney-general Michael Lavarch AO.
A treaty working group will also lead a state-wide consultation and engagement beginning in the second half of 2019.
Castledine said it was vital the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector thought hard about what they wanted from the process to make it clear to the state government they were serious about seeing change happen.
“They need to sit down, talk about it and find out what their opinions are and forward them onto the government so the government knows this is what we want, and this is how we see it,” she said.