Talkin Treaty in terms of Sovereignty

Talkin Treaty in terms of Sovereignty

“…See the impact of colonialism has been huge…we Aboriginal people are spiritual people and we are still recovering because of colonialism… There’s not a lot of understanding about that on the part of white Australia because they have this misguided belief that colonialism doesn’t affect them. Of course it does! It’s made them into the people they are today, which means they cannot hear what Aboriginal people are telling them… Many are trying to run away from their own history… As they get older and more mature [chuckles], hopefully they’ll have a better understanding… You see, that mouth of the snake… our people are in pathological grieving. Our people have retreated into the belly of the snake… it’s our consolidation of our Aboriginality, a renewing of our identity. Only recently have we begun emerging from the mouth of the snake with renewal and consolidation of who we are…” Lilla Watson Birri Gubba, Gungulu Elder Brisbane Qld.

  • From the Religious groups in oz
  • What Is Treaty
  • Benefits of a Treaty
  • Where It’s At
  • The Road Ahead
  • Conference Papers and Speeches
  • Examples of Sovereignty in action in – The City of London, The Crown
  • Ways forward…
  • What we are up against- Why there should be no Aboriginal treaty
  • Makarrata
  • The Bark Petitions
  • The Barunga Statement
  • Canada – Statement of Reconciliation
  • Preamble to the Constitution of South Africa
  • The Magna Carta or Great Charter



The Churches

When Pope John Paul II addressed that big crowd in Alice Springs in November 86,

he too emphasised the urgency for honesty in moving forward. Remember these



 ‘… What can be done to remedy the deeds of yesterday must not be put off till



So – what progress toward Reconciliation has been made in these past 20 years?

Well, I can understand that for many of you, the heaviness in your hearts indicates

very little seems to have been achieved. There have been some momentous events

since 1986. But sadly, highly publicised episodes can result, paradoxically, in a

negative spin-off: individuals may lapse in their personal motivation to keep moving

forward, because it looks like action is being accomplished on a grander scale

elsewhere – so what use is one little local contribution?


But let’s list some of those high profile starting points – and I say ‘starting points’,

because most are not yet fully implemented triumphs in our history!


5 years after the Pope’s visit to Alice Springs, in:

  • · 1991: The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was established, with the

vision: ‘A united Australia which respects this land of ours, values Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and provides justice and equity for all’.

  • · 1991: The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presented its

report and recommendations to the Federal Government.

  • · 1992: The High Court of Australia ruled in the Mabo case that native title

exists over particular kinds of lands, and that Australia was never terra nullius

or empty land.

  • · 1993: The Native Title Act was passed in Federal Parliament.
  • · 1994: The Indigenous Land Fund was established by the Federal Government

for indigenous people to buy land, part of the government’s response to the

Mabo decision.

  • · 1997: The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released the

‘Bringing Them Home’ report into the separation of indigenous children from

their parents. And later that same year:

  • · 1997: The Australian Reconciliation Convention took place, 30 years after the

’67 Referendum.

  • · 1998: Sorry Day remembrances were instituted, and have been observed

around Australia each year on 26 May since. [This year to be changed in

name and context to ‘National Day for Healing’.]

  • · 2000: More than one million Australians participated in bridge walks for

reconciliation; and the same year:

  • · 2000: Reconciliation Australia was established as an independent, nongovernment

foundation, to provide national leadership on reconciliation.

  • · Oct 2003: The report of the Senate enquiry into National Progress on

Reconciliation was released.


That’s just skimming the surface, of course, but there have been some long overdue,

significant leaps forward in the reconciliation journey during the past 20 years.


But … There have also been some momentous hiatuses, which inevitably shadow the

way we can even notice – let alone celebrate – the positives.


One of them is the UN’s draft Statement on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – still a

draft after 10 years, and most of its clauses still not acknowledged by our



There’s continuing evidence of significant and disproportionate social disadvantage to

indigenous Australians. The report of the Senate inquiry into National Progress on

Reconciliation, not quite 18 months ago, sadly reveals that the situation of

indigenous peoples in this country is not only still bad, but deteriorating. It makes

clear that the Federal Government’s policy of ‘practical reconciliation’ is not working,

and that the momentum for reconciliation is in danger of being lost through lack of

national leadership.


Did you know that Australia remains the only colonised country in the world not to

have made a treaty with its indigenous population? Now – there’s a variety of

opinions about what treaty might mean, but most within the reconciliation

movement agree that some form of symbolic agreement between indigenous and

non-indigenous Australia is needed to redress this glaring breach of the instructions

given to (the then) Lieutenant James Cook when he invaded this land.


And there remains the inexplicable refusal by our Prime Minister and the Federal

Government to formally apologise to those of the Stolen Generations – to offer a

sincere apology, and to engage in the consequential actions of ensuring wrongs of

the past can never recur and of providing concrete reparation measures. The failure

to do so stands as an ugly ink blot on the history of this country and in the hearts of

those still suffering day by day.






What is Treaty?

A treaty is an agreement between two or more parties who seek to have their relationship with each other spelt out. Principles underlying a treaty may include:

recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia and of the distinct rights which flow from this; agreement to the necessary reforms for a more just society; and the setting of national standards to inform local or regional treaties and agreements.

In its final report to the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Parliament the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation recommended the establishment of an agreement or treaty process to negotiate the unresolved issues of reconciliation.

A treaty between Indigenous peoples and Australia could have recognised and protected Indigenous rights and led to a just constitutional basis for the Australian Federation.

Instead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were completely overlooked as relevant parties in the formation of the Australian Federation.

The time is right to talk about a treaty with the approach of the Centenary of Federation. Even the word ’federate’ derives from a Latin word meaning ‘to make a treaty’.

A recent AC Nielsen Age poll showed that 53 per cent of Australians are ready to embrace the concept of a treaty. A national treaty here will reflect an Australia that has matured as a nation.

It’s important to realise that a national treaty does not stop Indigenous communities and other local, regional, state and territory stakeholders from signing treaties with each other at those levels.

Canada, USA and New Zealand all have treaties with Indigenous peoples and it is time for Australia to reach for the same recognition of partnership.


Benefits of a Treaty?

                A properly negotiated binding treaty will deliver:agreed standards;

a framework for settling relationships between Indigenous peoples and governments at local, regional, state, territory and federal levels;

legal recognition including constitutional recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have inherent rights which must inform all processes of governments in Australia; and

improved services such as health, housing, education and employment in accordance with the legitimate htmirations of Indigenous peoples.

Where It’s At

Following meetings of key Indigenous leaders, agreement has been reached with the support of ATSIC to:

set up a National Treaty Support Group;

convene a national ‘Think Tank’;

encourage the setting up of a network of regional Think Tanks/Support Groups.

A number of ways you can help:

register your interest by joining us;

set up local or regional support groups;

participate in local initiatives.

The Road Ahead

Although there is strong support throughout the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for a treaty, there is no agreed arrangement for representatives to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In the true spirit of self-determination, the right to negotiate a treaty is to be exercised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in whatever manner they decide through the treaty process.

The process will be an inclusive one and will focus on the need to:

promote and encourage discussion and informed debate within the Indigenous and broader Australian community on the concept of a treaty (or treaties);cooperate with others and coordinate resources to advance the treaty process;actively encourage Australian governments and other parties to enter into a treaty; andprovide community education and awareness programs.



Conference Papers and Speeches

  • The Political Economy of a Treaty: Opportunities and Challenges for Enhancing Economic Development for Indigenous Australians – Professor John Altman
     Read Document..
  • Restored to Life Treaty as Renewed Spirit – Associate Professor Michael Horsburgh
     Read Document..
  • Opening Panel – Unfinished Business – Jackie Huggins
     Read Document..
  • Sovereign Union of Aboriginal Nations and Peoples of Australia – Yaluritja Clarrie Isaacs
     Read Document..
  • Recognising Aboriginal Sovereignty – implications for the Treaty process – Dr William Jonas AM
     Read Document..
  • Treaties and agreements as instruments of order in and between civil societies: a rational choice approach – Professor Marcia Langton and Dr Lisa Palmer
     Read Document..
  • Labor’s Framework for Lasting Agreements – Starting the Process – Carmen Lawrence
     Read Document..
  • A Treaty for Better Indigenous Health – Dr Kerryn Phelps
     Read Document..
  • Social Impacts of a Treaty – Professor Deryck Schreuder
     Read Document..
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sovereignty – Mr Terry Waia
     Read Document..
  • Address by the Local Government Association – Ed Wensing
     Read Document..
  • The Treaty Debate, Bills of Rights and the Republic: Strategies and Lessons for Reform – George Williams
     Read Document..
  • Bread verses Freedom: Treaty and stabilising Indigenous Languages – Lester-Irabinna Rigney
     Read Document..


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A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe
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