Victorian Context

Photo Credit: Aboriginal Victoria 2016


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. 

The Treaty Interim Working Group is tasked with consulting Aboriginal people in Victoria and advising the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the development of treaty/treaties framework, and a broader self-determination agenda including a permanent Victorian Aboriginal representative body. The first priority is the development of a representative body, this will be a significant step towards entering into negotiations with the Victorian government on treaty.

The 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 this year.

Following the significant funding announcement in April 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.

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 agreed approach is made up of 3 parts; Community Consultations; Treaty Circles; and Online Message Stick

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)

Represenative Body 

"The role of the representative body is to represent, advocate, educate, develop a State-wide Treaty negotiation framework and engage with community and government about Treaty/Treaties. Only Traditional Owners can negotiate local Treaties for their country, supported by a State-wide Treaty negotiation framework." (Treaty Circle Facilitator Handbook) 

From community consultations across the state 8 design principles were developed: Practical; Inclusive Representation; Unity; Culturally Based; Transparent and Accountable; Skills-based; Independent; and Clan based. These principles will be used to develop and assess options for the establishment of a Representative Body.

Clear themes about the role and function of the representative body were also developed through the consultations: Advocate; Unification of Community; Represent; Cultural Driver; Policy Creation; Investment and Planning for the Future; Educate; Dispute Resolution; and Negotiate treaty.