Australia

'Historic moment': Queensland Indigenous treaty plan outlined

The government says it is working on an Indigenous voice in government and creating a path to a treaty. Source: Twitter/@LeeanneEnoch

The Queensland government has launched a reform agenda to reframe the state's relationship with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Queensland government has pledged to reframe its relationship with the state's Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples as it paves a path towards a treaty, but admits the process may take years.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad launched the "Tracks to Treaty" commitment in Brisbane on Sunday, the last day of NAIDOC Week.

She said it aimed to give Indigenous communities greater self-determination and better delivery of services, lift the representation of Indigenous voices to government, and begin work on negotiating one or more treaties to create a positive shared future.

"Today is about recognising that fundamental underpinning of the success and betterment of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a much better relationship between government and the community," she said.

Ms Trad said there was no pre-ordained outcome, as it was all about having a respectful, inclusive conversation.

"I'm not here to rush anything; I'm here to say we are starting a conversation," she said.

"Fundamentally, we want to come together as a community and say this is the path we want to take, this is the path we want to explore, and it's through that process we'll get a time frame."

In a statement, the government said a "reframed relationship" with Indigenous Australians would be done "in a spirit of healing".

"In the spirit of healing, we recognise the past acts of dispossession, settlement and discriminatory policies, and the cumulative acts of colonial and state governments since the commencement of colonisation which have left an enduring legacy of economic and social disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced and continue to experience.

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"It is time to nurture hope and optimism. It is time to focus on strengths and not deficits and to move from surviving to thriving. This can only be done by the Queensland Government doing things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and not ‘to them’."

The path to Treaty process will be led by an eminent panel, co-chaired by Aboriginal leader and academic Jackie Huggins and former Keating government attorney-general Michael Lavarch.

The panel will conduct state-wide consultation in the second half of 2019.

"These are conversations for all Queenslanders," Dr Huggins said.

"We need to move forward with mutual respect and a shared vision for this country."

In making the announcement, Ms Trad was joined by Environment Minister and Quandamooka woman Leeanne Enoch, and Queensland's first Torres Strait Islander MP Cynthia Lui.

"Understanding our past, our shared history... but also telling the truth in all of that, and ensuring that truth then lays the path for the future generations, so Queensland can be the very best it can be," Ms Enoch said.

Ms Lui said it was a truly 'historic moment'.

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"This launch signifies a positive step in the right direction...in achieving positive outcomes, meaningful outcomes leading into the future."

LNP spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Christian Rowan said Labor was failing to address current issues.

"There are dozens of Indigenous kids being locked up in police watch houses for weeks at a time and Labor failed every closing the gap target on Indigenous disadvantage."

Queensland is the third Australian jurisdiction after Victoria and the Northern Territory to begin the process of negotiating an Indigenous treaty.

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