Self-determination

Treaty timeline: Events from 1835 to today

This timeline charts Australia's way towards a treaty with its Aboriginal people from the early beginnings in the 1800s to the present day.

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Australian treaty timeline

While other countries have entered treaties with their indigenous peoples, Australia hasn't done that – yet. In recent years, Aboriginal people's calls for a treaty (or Makarrata) have finally been listened to.

57 entries for Treaty timeline: Events from 1835 to today. Showing page 2 of 3.

1988

  1. June

    A statement of Aboriginal aspirations is presented to Mr Hawke at the Barunga Festival ("The Barunga Statement"). The Prime Minister responds by calling for a treaty to be negotiated between the Aboriginal people and the government of Australia.

    There shall be a treaty negotiated between the Aboriginal people and the government on behalf of all the people of Australia. — Prime Minister Bob Hawke

  2. July

    The use of the term "treaty" ignites much public interest, and Mr Hawke remarks, "It's not the word that's important, its the attitudes of the peoples, attitudes of the non-Aboriginal Australians and of the Aboriginal Australians if there is a sense of reconciliation... whether you say there's a treaty or a compact is not important, but it is important that we do it."

1991

  1. 2 September

    Support for a treaty is not unanimous, but wide political support continues for reconciliation. Through 1990 and 1991, cross-party support develops for a formal process of reconciliation to be led by a council of prominent Australians, and the government establishes the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation on 2 September 1991.

1996

  1. Yothu Yindi release their song Treaty, which combines balanda (non-Aboriginal) and Yolngu lyrics together and is a political response to the Hawke government’s broken promise of a treaty between Aboriginal people and the Australian government by 1990. Treaty peaks at no 11 on the Australian single chart and internationally at no 6 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play singles chart. It quickly becomes a timeless protest song in the campaign for Aboriginal rights reform and remains one of Australia's most iconic rock songs.

1998

  1. The idea of a 'document of reconciliation' develops as a way to deal with the sensitivities and differences of view which existed about a treaty. Other terms which could be used instead of 'document of reconciliation' could be settlement, compact, covenant or declaration, or an Aboriginal word, such as Makarrata, which has an appropriate meaning.

  2. September

    Prime Minister John Howard vehemently opposes a treaty, instead insisting on non-binding recognition: "I hope we have some kind of written understanding. I don't like the idea of a treaty because it implies that we are two nations. We are not, we are one nation. We are all Australians before anything else, one indivisible nation.

    "But I would certainly be in favour of a document that recognises the prior occupation of this country by the indigenous people, recognising their place as part of the Australian community and their right to preserve their distinctive culture. But within the notion of one undivided united Australian community where our first and foremost allegiance is to Australia and nothing else."

2000

  1. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation identifies a treaty as the unfinished business of the reconciliation process and recommends “that the Commonwealth Parliament enact legislation... to put in place a process which will unite all Australians by way of an agreement, or treaty, through which unresolved issues of reconciliation can be resolved.”

  2. Prime Minister John Howard rejects a treaty noting a "nation … does not make a treaty with itself".

  3. A poll finds 53% of Australians favoured a treaty, with 34% opposed.

2010

  1. 27 August

    The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination releases its Concluding Observations following a review of Australia’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Among other things the committee recommends that the government "consider the negotiation of a treaty agreement to build a constructive and sustained relationship with Indigenous peoples". [1]

2011

  1. October

    In response to the NT intervention, leaders in East Arnhem Land found the Yolngu Nations Assembly (Yolŋu Makarr Dhuni) in Galiwinku to resource practical work toward a treaty for Arnhem Land by facilitating engagement between the Aboriginal Maḏayin form of tribal government and the Westminster forms of governments.

2014

  1. [In a]ll of Arnhem Land, we still maintain our law, maintain our language and have our land. We have not been conquered. We need our society recognised. — Djiniyini Goṉḏarra, Yolngu Nations Assembly spokesperson [2]

  2. January

    Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott both express their interest in a treaty. Rather than make a single treaty between the federal government and Australia’s Aboriginal people in general, they suggest individual treaties with each nation or language group.

  3. November

    Freedom Summit at the Old Telegraph outside of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) which leads to the formation of the Freedom Movement which aims to talk about, define and agree on a treaty. "A Treaty from the people – a salt of the earth, grass-roots document that respects the First Peoples, that is of, and by, the First Peoples of this continent." [3]

2016

  1. From 26–27 May the first forums with the Victorian government discuss treaty with more than 400 participants.

  2. 3 February

    A meeting of 500 Aboriginal leaders in Victoria rejects constitutional recognition and passes a motion demanding that the state “resources a treaty process, including a framework for treaties, with complete collaboration with all Sovereign Peoples and Nations”. [4]

  3. 26 February

    The Victorian government commits to begin talks to work out Australia's first treaty with Aboriginal people.[5] The treaty aims for

    • Recognition of past injustices
    • Recognition of all 39 First Nations and their clans authority
    • Recognition of and respect for country, traditions and customs
    • A futures fund to implement and establish the treaty
    • Establishment of a democratic treaty commission
    • Land rights and land acquisition legislation and funding
    • Fresh water and sea water rights
  4. March

    Campaign poster of Yingiya Mark Guyulu advocating a treaty.
    Yingiya Mark Guyulu's campaign poster as an independent candidate for the 2016 NT Legislative Assembly election.

    The Yolgnu Nations Assembly selects Yingiya Mark Guyulu as an independent candidate to run for the 26 August NT Legislative Assembly elections. He strongly advocated a treaty with the government.

  5. June

    During the election campaign, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces that he believes a formal treaty would undermine the campaign towards constitutional recognition. Meanwhile opposition leader Bill Shorten says he is 'up for the conversation on a treaty'.

  6. July

    The Victorian government commences the Treaty Interim Working Group to "provide advice on the process and timing for treaty, guidance on community engagement and examining options for a permanent Victorian Aboriginal representative body". [6] It has 5 Aboriginal representatives and 6 people appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

References

View article sources (7)

[1] 'Race Discrimination: UN Committee Releases Report and Recommendations on Australia', Human Rights Law Centre 27/8/2010, hrlc.org.au/race-discrimination-un-committee-releases-report-and-recommendations-on-australia-28-august-2010, retrieved 17/3/2015
[2] 'Indigenous Treaties', Yolngu Nations Assembly media statement 30/1/2014
[3] Freedom Movement SA, Media Release, 7/9/2015
[4] Sydney Public Forum on the Need for Treaty, press release, Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney, 10/3/2016
[5] 'Victorian Government to begin talks with First Nations on Australia's first Indigenous treaty', ABC News 26/2/2016
[6] 'Aboriginal Victorians Talk Treaty', Minister for Aboriginal Affairs 18/7/2016

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Treaty timeline: Events from 1835 to today, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/selfdetermination/treaty-timeline-events-from-1835-to-today?page=2>, retrieved 11 December 2019

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