Queensland to unveil Indigenous truth-telling inquiry as part of path to treaty

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP</span>
Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

The Queensland government is set to reveal a three-year Indigenous truth-telling inquiry will take place as the state lays down more detail about its path towards a treaty with First Nations people.

Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, will on Tuesday accept all 22 recommendations of a committee report into treaty advancement.

The government will spend $10m per year for the duration of the treaty process, which the premier described as a “leap” towards reconciliation.

“What we do next on the path to treaty will define our humanity, our sense of fairness, and the legacy we leave our children,” Palaszczuk said.

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“We can’t change the past, but together we can create a new future for our state.”

The treaty will be a signed and negotiated agreement between First Nations peoples and the Queensland government.

The government has said it is open to signing a single treaty, or individual treaties with different Indigenous groups.

An independent First Nations Treaty Institute will be established in legislation and have responsibility for developing a treaty-making framework for agreement with government.

A three-year formal truth-telling inquiry will also be set up to detail injustices faced by First Nations people.

Until then, an independent interim body consisting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders as well as non-Indigenous representatives will lead local truth-telling initiatives at public libraries, museums, archives and art galleries to promote a shared understanding of the state’s history.

The state’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships minister, Craig Crawford, said a Path to Treaty Office would also be established within the state government to ensure government “is ready to come to the negotiating table”.

“We need to make significant changes to how we work with First Nations for this to happen.”

Treaty advancement committee co-chair Dr Jackie Huggins said the path to treaty will centre on “how we mend the very fabric of our society”.

“It is important to understand what a treaty was, and why now,” she said.

“We want all Queenslanders to walk side by side with us on the path to treaty, so that we can overcome those huge injustices that still, unfortunately, persist in our society.

“It’s about having those very respectful conversations that we need to have.”

The announcement comes as Victoria moves to establish an independent authority to help oversee treaty negotiations between the government and First Nations people, while the ACT is also undertaking a similar process. The Northern Territory also in an advanced stage of its own treaty process.