April Treaty Forum Minister response

Open letter from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Victorian Treaty Forum on 28 April 2017

The Victorian Treaty Forum in April was both the culmination of 14 months hard work with over 7,000 members of the Victorian Aboriginal Community and the start of the next phase of self-determination in this state.

I was immensely proud to provide a demonstration of the faith in self-determination and commitment to treaty from the Premier and our government in the form of funding to develop the representative body and embed self-determination.

Reconciliation is at the core of the movement for treaty and I have no doubt that taking the lead from the Victorian Aboriginal Community on how to achieve that, as opposed to government deciding how, is the right way.

The path to treaty will not be smooth and nor should it be.

The Victorian Aboriginal community is a rich and diverse one that will vigorously debate the path to self-determination. That debate, guided by the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group, will now move from ongoing regional meetings, treaty circles and large scale forums into a representative assembly that will be tasked with working out the exact nature of the representative body.

Once it is formed, constituted and the recognised by government the negotiation of a treaty can commence.

That is the path to treaty in Victoria.

The task for the Victorian Government now is to provide the financial support necessary to make this happen and take action to recognise the representative body once it is formed.

While this work is underway I look forward to working with the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group and the Victorian Aboriginal community more broadly to take this significant step in closing the gap and achieving true reconciliation.

Natalie Hutchins

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs