Treaty Developments in Victoria, plus Constitutional Recognition Updates
Towards a Treaty / Agreements in Victoria
Victorian Treaty Update: October 2017
This month, the Aboriginal Community Assembly came together to shape the design and structure of the Aboriginal Representative Body. Members of the Aboriginal Community Assembly are expected to be announced shortly by the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group.
On the 27th October, Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, announced that the Victorian Government will establish a new public office, the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission and appoint a Commissioner in early 2018. The Commission will operationalise the outcomes of the Aboriginal Community Assembly and establish the Aboriginal Representative Body. The Commissioner will report directly to the Governor in Council - a body comprised of the Governor General and members of the Executive Council (ie Premier and sworn in Ministers).
During 2016, The Victorian State Government commenced meetings with Aboriginal community members and an Aboriginal community Working Group was established. It held 10 community consultation meetings across Victoria. The next stage is a meeting on Country in April 2017, to agree a Representative Body that will be the Aboriginal community’s voice in negotiations for Treaty.
For an update on this process, including reports of each stage, see: http://www.vic.gov.au/aboriginalvictoria/treaty.html
Early in 2017, Shireen Morris wrote the following article, linking the potential for both Constiutional Recognition and Treaty / agreement making: Indigenous constitutional recognition and the search for common ground
At the Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group's AGM on 18 November 2014, Emily Chauvel-Byrne from Reconciliation Victoria presented to our members and visitors "Treaty and its relationship to Constitutional Recognition".
During 2013 a first stage project for Constitutional Recognition took place in Geelong.
RECOGNISE was the people’s movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution. It was incorporated into the work of Reconciliaiotn Australia in mid 2017.
Constitutional Recognition Progress UPDATES:
Constitutional Reform Update - October 2017:
The Prime Minister and his cabinet have officially rejected recommendations from the Referendum Council’s Final Report to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations Voice to Parliament and enact a Declaration of Recognition that articulates a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.
There has been a range of media coverage of the government’s response
The Referendum Council conducted nation-wide dialogues, with a final report at the end of June 2017.
They were seeking feedback on the following proposals:
drafting a statement acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians, and inserting it either in the Constitution or outside the Constitution, either as a preamble in a new head of power or in a statutory Declaration of Recognition
amending or deleting the ‘race power’, section 51 (xxvi) and replacing it with a new head of power (which might contain a statement of acknowledgement as a preamble to that power) to enable the continuation of necessary laws with respect to Indigenous issues
inserting a constitutional prohibition against racial discrimination into the Constitution
providing for an Indigenous voice to be heard by Parliament, and the right to be consulted on legislation and policy that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
deleting section 25, which contemplates the possibility of a State government excluding some Australians from voting in State elections on the basis of their race.
On 6th July 2015 Aboriginal leaders met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott & Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to discuss the process towards the referendum, currently planned for 2017.
The result is a three part process:
• A Referendum Council be established to progress issues such as settling the referendum question and timing (with regular reports to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader);
• There be a series of community conferences across the country to provide an opportunity for everyone to have a say and for all significant points of view to be considered; and
• The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition is to develop a discussion paper to assist this consultation
The Final Report of the Act of Recognition Review Panel was published in September 2014 - Final Report of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples Act of Recognition Review Panel
Reconciliation Victoria contributed a succinct response shortly afterwards - Ongoing Consideration: Meaningful Recognition & Agreement Making
The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee held public meetings to gain input on the developing referendum wording.
The final report of this Committee was produced in June 2015 - JSC Final Report 2015
The Committees Interim Report was published in July 2014 - JSC Interim Report July 2014
Reconciliation Victoria precis document of this draft is a helpful summary - Rec Vic JSC Interim Report precis Aug'14
Geelong Constitutional Recognition Project presented after Reconciliation Victoria, when the Committee was in Melbourne on 14th August 2014.
You can read our statement to the Committee - Geelong CR Project Statement to JSC August 2014
Constitutional Recognition Resources:
There are e-versions of both VACCA and Congress’s information sheets raising awareness on this issue at -
You can also see some you tube videos from Recognise at -
May 2014 -
“Reconciliation Victoria is opposed to the proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA), which will weaken protections against racial discrimination. We believe that the proposed amendments will be a step back in Australia’s reconciliation journey, and will hinder efforts to close the gaps in health and other outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. Recent research found that the vast majority of Aboriginal Victorians experience racism regularly in shops, at school, at work or on public transport. The research found a strong correlation between these experiences and peoples’ level of psychological distress, which in turn can impact their health, education, employment and other areas of their lives. The repeal of Section 18C would open the door for a greater acceptance of racism in the community, when what we need is a stronger stance to stamp out racism.”
In AUGUST the proposed ammenments to this Act were dropped by Federal Governement.