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Treaty-Making: Dealing with the past and reframing the future

Time: Sunday, 9 August 2020 - 12:30pm

Location: Online

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A special Island of Ideas public lecture presented in partnership with Reconciliation Tasmania to celebrate International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

A treaty is a settlement or agreement arrived at by treating or negotiation. A treaty gives rise to binding obligations between the parties who make it. It acts to formalise the relationship between the parties to the agreement. And it is not only about settling economic, social and cultural matters, it is also about properly establishing our future political relationships.

As a nation, we are at the crossroads when it comes to bridging the social and economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. As we sit at those crossroads, despite many well-meaning efforts, we still see a very uncertain future for Indigenous Australians - which in turn creates uncertainty for non-Indigenous Australians. To resolve that uncertainty, this country needs to take a different road than the ones previously travelled.

Our nation needs to deal with our colonial past and its impact on first nations. Every Australian must know of our shared history and its deadly and ongoing impact on the Indigenous first peoples of this land we now share. The story is part of the Unfinished Business.

What we are talking about when we use the term Unfinished Business is the yet to be met legitimate grievances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders arising directly from colonisation by the British - and Britain’s successors - and the ongoing consequences of that colonisation. It is also about confronting the legacy of the past and realigning the relationship between government, Indigenous people and the people of Australia. The process is truth telling.

These are outstanding matters going directly to a proper relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and the future of that relationship. If we are talking about treaty-making in a new Australia, these outstanding matters must be central to that process. Their resolution by agreement is essential to lasting reconciliation.

Tags: Aboriginal Tasmanians, Treaty