Aboriginal treaty edges closer in Victoria

In an Australian first, Aboriginal Victorians are preparing to lodge a historic vote towards treaty.
In an Australian first, Aboriginal Victorians are preparing to lodge a historic vote towards treaty.

WHAT IS THE TREATY?

* An agreement between states, nations or governments, including between indigenous people and governments.

* Can be used in many areas including recognition of historic sovereignty, sacred sites, place names, historic wrongs, apologies and how relationships should evolve, possible self-government and land rights and management.

TREATY IN AUSTRALIA

* The June 1988 Barunga Statement called for Aboriginal self-management, a national system of land rights, compensation for loss of lands, respect for Aboriginal identity, an end to discrimination and the granting of full civil, economic, social and cultural rights.

* Labor prime minister Bob Hawke wanted to conclude a treaty by 1990. It has not happened.

* A national Native Title Act 1993 and several state-based agreements cover some of the same ground as a treaty.

WHICH OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE A TREATY?

* New Zealand - British representatives signed the Treaty of Waitangi with Maori chiefs in 1840. The New Zealand government has committed to settling historic and contemporary claims about the breach of treaty principles.

* Canada - treaties were signed up to 1920. Since the 1970s, federal and provincial governments have been making land agreements with First Nations without historic treaties.

* United States - agreements were signed until 1871. The federal government continues to make "nation-to-nation" agreements with recognised tribes.

WHERE IS AUSTRALIA UP TO WITH THE TREATY?

* Victoria - Five-week elections are about to begin for Indigenous people to elect representatives for the First Peoples' Assembly. The assembly will become the voice of Indigenous people during the next phase of treaty negotiations with the state government.

* Northern Territory - Mick Dodson became NT treaty commissioner in March and will lead treaty negotiations between Aboriginal people and the territory government.

* Other Australian states and territories are also considering tabling treaty legislation.

Source: Victorian government

Australian Associated Press