What is a treaty?

Australia is the only Commonwealth Country to have not entered into treaty processes with the First Peoples of the land.

"A ‘treaty’ is an agreement between states, nations or governments, and can include an agreement between Indigenous peoples and governments. A treaty can contain statements of principle, guidelines for future relationships, reparations for past injustices, and guarantees and promises about Indigenous land, sovereignty and identity. It can combine elements of existing historic and modern treaties, and can talk about the past as well as make commitments for the future." (Treaty Fact Sheet)

Reconciliation Victoria's Position Statement on Treaty and Constitutional Recognition

Reconciliation Victoria supports the calls of the Aboriginal community in Victoria for the long-overdue negotiation of a Treaty, and commends the Victorian Government for its commitment to enter into these discussions. We are excited by these developments.

It is our understanding that both state-based Treaty discussions and the national constitutional reform agenda can be progressed alongside each other. Both will represent significant milestones in our country’s history, but they must be informed by the diverse voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples if they are to be achieved. 

Please follow this link for our full position statement


So, where are things at?

In late February 2016 the Victorian Government committed to advancing self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians by working towards Australia's first treaty with First Nations Peoples.  This commitment was announced on back of the Victorian Open Aboriginal Community Meeting, at which a motion was passed calling for Treaties to be negotiated. Reconciliation Victoria has a summary of this meeting, including our response. 

Premier Daniel Andrew's stated: Victoria’s treaty with Aboriginal Victorians will be the first of its kind in our nation’s history. And Aboriginal people will lead this change."

The Treaty Interim Working Group conducted 16 community consultation events across Victoria in 2016. The Working Group reported back at a State-Wide Forum in December 2016 & an Interim Report was released in February 2017. 

On 28 April 2017, a statewide forum was held in Melbourne, detailing the outcomes of the consultations to date and to discuss the next steps. At the forum, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, announced that the 2017-18 Victorian State Budget would pro-vide $28.5 million to support the treaty process over the next four years, out of a total of $68.2 million towards Aboriginal self-determination. This funding includes further consultation on treaty and the development of a new Aboriginal representative body. Some concerns have been raised during the consultation period and at the state wide forum by community members about the current process and engagement.  

Following the significant funding announcement in April 2017 made at the Statewide Forum, two ‘Aboriginal Community Consultations Reports’ were released on the 29th June.  The reports include a detailed analysis of the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group’s preferred legal structure - a company limited by guarantee - along with the other legal structures that were considered in depth. The overarching principle, decided through community consultations, is that the representative body be democratic, independent from government, and able to authorise treaty/treaties.

There is a summary and full report available on Aboriginal Victoria's Treaty website.

On Aug 8, 2017 Taungurung Traditional Owner Mick Harding became the first Aboriginal person in history to address the Victorian Cabinet. Mr Harding, the Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group together with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins, presented an update to Cabinet on the work towards a Treaty with Victoria’s Traditional Owners. 

The Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group will soon be setting up an Aboriginal Community Assembly to provide recommendations on the remaining design elements of the representative body. This is currently in development - more information will be provided once it is finalised. Visit AV’s website for more information. 

The current proposed timeline is a 3 step process, as presented in the Treaty Circles Handbook is as follows:

Step 1: Establish a Representative Body (within the next 18 months)

Step 2: Consult on what is a Treaty 

Step 3: Negotiate Treaty/Treaties (beginning in 2019, this may take many years)


Visit our Victorian Context tab for more information.

Latest News & Events


Wendy Caccetta, "Victoria takes a step closer to state treaty" (National Indigenous Times, May 3, 2017)

"Aboriginal Tasmanians to argue for a national treaty" (AM, ABC Radio, May 22)

"Treaty or Constitututional Recognition?" Speaking Out with Larissa Behrendt (ABC Radio, April 27)


For more news and events please visit our Latest News tab.