Public discussions will wrap up this week on Queensland’s first possible treaty with First Nations people.
It's the only time there has been state-wide consultations on treaty and agreement-making between the Indigenous community and the Queensland government.
An independent Eminent Panel and Treaty Working Group including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous representatives has spearheaded the process and is preparing to finish public consultations on Friday.
Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and member of the Eminent panel on the ‘Path to Treaty’ working group, Mick Gooda, is listening to the community in Toowoomba on Tuesday.
He says the group will compile a report for government over Christmas, but feels there is already a consensus.
“Right now, I'd be confident in saying Aboriginal people in Queensland want a treaty… but there's a whole lot of things we've got to do to get that right,” Mr Gooda said.
“They talk about what we need in place as a precursor to treaties... And that goes to things like truth-telling. The general view is you can't have a treaty unless it's built on truth.
“That means confronting things that happened in Queensland.
“We know there were massacres, we know there was stolen wages, we know kids were taken away, and we know we need to put all of that stuff on the table as a way of moving forward to treaty,” he said.
Toowoomba is the 18th of 22 public consultation sessions held across the state, stretching from the Torres Strait to Townsville.
Queensland is the latest jurisdiction to begin their own treaty process, as the federal government kicks off a year of consultations for options on Indigenous recognition.
In Victoria, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will now take over working towards a state treaty from the Treaty Advancement Commission.
In the Northern Territory, independent Treaty Co-Commissioners have been appointed and a treaty process is currently underway.
A range of treaty options
The Queensland working group is considering a range of options.
It includes a state-wide treaty; multiple treaties based on regions; treaties with Traditional Owner groups; embedding Indigenous history in the school curriculum; or even establishing a treaty institute or treaty commission that sets the principles for treaty and oversees negotiations.
Mr Gooda said the working group is exploring measures to reset the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“We think, and the feedback we’re getting, is this can actually be the catalyst for settling unfinished business here in Queensland so everyone can move forward together.”
“There’s this whole unfinished business in Australia where we're sitting here, and it goes to how this place was colonised and settled and occupied," said Mr Gooda.
"It's never been done, and there’s a feeling that we get, that this treaty could actually establish that - it could tell the truth."
The Eminent Panel is expected to make recommendations to the Queensland government in February 2020.