Indigenous Treaty: Understanding the Process

Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO presented an overview of the Treaty process instigated by the Victorian Parliament earlier this year at the Parklake, Shepparton on Wednesday 18 July.


Treaty Advancement Commission

The Treaty Advancement Commission is an independent office, launched in January 2018.

The task of the Commission is to maintain momentum of the treaty process, and set up the Aboriginal Representative Body which will establish the ‘ground rules’ for treaty.

The Representative Body will be an independent, democratic voice for Aboriginal people in the treaty process.

The backbone of this work is the report from the Treaty Working Group (which incorporates the recommendations of the Aboriginal Community Assembly).

The Commission is not negotiating treaty.

The Commissioner, Jill Gallagher is a Gunditjmara woman from western Victoria.

She is a highly respected Aboriginal leader who has dedicated her life to advocating for the Victorian Aboriginal community.

The Treaty Roadshow

Commissioner Jill Gallagher AO and staff of the Treaty Commission have been visiting regions in Victoria in order to meet with the community across the state. The goal is to raise awareness of the Treaty Commission and its task in the community of Victoria at large, and also to meet with as many Aboriginal Victorians as they can. It is important that the indigenous communities stay at the heart of this journey to treaties.

Ms Gallagher explained the task of the Aboriginal Representative Body: the Aboriginal Representative Body will be the democratic, elected ‘voice’ of Aboriginal people in Victoria in the next phase of the treaty process. It will be independent of government. It will be made up of traditional owners, elected by Aboriginal people in Victoria. It is anticipated to be set up in mid-2019. It will not negotiate a treaty. Instead, it will work with the State of Victoria to prepare for treaty negotiations.

Whilst it is not the task of the Treaty Advancement Commission to tell what will be in the treaty, Jill Gallagher alluded to possibilities for inclusion:

  • teaching indigenous culture in schools
  • learning indigenous language as part of primary school curriculum
  • truth telling as a means of enabling the full story to be told
  • addressing dispossession and access to land

The key to truth-telling is not about blame nor finger-pointing; it is to acknowledge the story, and to tell the story. This starts the healing process within the generations that have passed.

It is the task of the Treaty Advancement Commission to start the conversation about the treaty and to ensure that indigenous peoples from all regions in Victoria are aware that they are eligible to be elected to the Representative Body.

A well attended event, with many local indigenous leaders present. Ms Gallagher had earlier visited Bendigo and Echuca, and will continue to visit North-East Victoria along with staff of the Commission. Thanks go to the City of Greater Shepparton for sponsoring this event, it was worthwhile and the energy which Jill Gallagher filled the room was very much an empowering energy.



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