Misstatement: “We don’t need a treaty – a nation does not make a treaty with itself.” 

Some points:

Australia is the only Commonwealth nation that does not have a treaty with its Indigenous people. New Zealand and Canada both have treaties – and the concerns raised by opponents of a treaty in Australia have not eventuated in these countries.

Indigenous peoples did not cede sovereignty in 1788. They were dispossessed of their land and have never been able to take their rightful place in Australian society.

A treaty could provide, among other things:

  • a symbolic recognition of Indigenous sovereignty and prior occupation of this land
  • a redefinition and restructuring of the relationship between Indigenous people and wider Australia
  • better protection of Indigenous rights
  • a basis for regional self-government
  • guidelines for local or regional treaties
  • structures and systems for local and regional decision-making processes.

A Treaty won’t result in Australians losing their land – but it will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the tools to achieve social justice and recognition.

For more information:

Why Treaty?

Darryl Cronin (2017) “Trapped by history: democracy, human rights and justice for indigenous people in Australia” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1323238X.2017.1373739

Parliamentary Library “Uluru statement: a quick guide” https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/UluruStatement

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