NACCHO Aboriginal health and #Barunga30years #TreatyNow : Can we achieve an #UluruStatement #Voice and #Treaties in a reconciled republic of Australia : Plus Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

Australian states have taken steps towards the nation’s first treaties with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Australia is the only Commonwealth country that does not have a treaty with its indigenous populations.

Many indigenous Australians have cited a treaty or treaties as the best chance of bringing them substantive as well as symbolic recognition – the subject of a long-running national debate.

In an Australian first, a bill committing to a treaty was approved in Victoria’s lower house of parliament on Thursday.

The Northern Territory and Western Australia have pledged their own, separate actions in recent days.

All of this has intensified discussion about whether others, including the Australian government, will follow suit

From BBC Treaty report

Treaty Score board Image above from Kyam Maher MLC

Polling commissioned by the Australia Institute, of 1417 people, found there was 51 per cent support for a treaty and 55 per cent backed a truth telling commission.

There was 46 per cent support for enshrining an indigenous voice in the constitution and 29 per cent of those surveyed opposed the move, the rest were unsure

The Northern Territory’s four Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government have today signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (the “Barunga Agreement”), paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty.

A joint meeting of the four Land Councils at Barunga this week voted to empower their Chairmen to sign the MOU “

Combined Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government Prees Release see Part 1 Below

And we also need to make clear that if we can establish a Voice for our first Australians – the decisions made about them are made with them and by them.

This is not a radical concept. It is nothing less than we should expect in any other circumstances.

We should not be afraid either, of the using our voice and the voice of first Australians to talk about treaties and agreement-making between our first Australians and levels of government within Australia.

I believe that Australians have the goodwill to reconcile this country. What they don’t have is the leadership in this country to drive proper and meaningful reconciliation.”

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten see full speech Part 2 below

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said it was “irresponsible” for supporters of the indigenous voice concept to leave it open and undefined.

He said it was his personal opinion that it would be more effective to have indigenous people having direct influence and power through the office of minister for indigenous affairs.

“Whether or not you can run my job by a committee, well it hasn’t been done before,” Senator Scullion said.

“Don’t just get on the voice like it’s a life ring, it’s the only thing we’ve got, stick our head in it, start paddling, hope there’s no sharks.”

From the Australian June 11 Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

The proposal to replace a minister of the crown with a group of unelected indigenous leaders is far more radical than what the Uluru reform calls for, a voice to the parliament .It suggests a lack of understanding of how cabinet government works.”

Aboriginal activist and constitutional law professor Megan Davis was highly critical of Senator Scullion’s idea see part 3 below

 

 “What does the Victorian bill say?

If passed in the upper house, it will legislate a process for establishing a state Aboriginal representative body and a treaty, or treaties.

The bill will also require the Victorian government to provide annual updates on progress.

“It is about the recognition of us as the first people of this country,” said Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher.

Aboriginal history Prof Richard Broome, from La Trobe University, told the BBC: “It is very significant because it is the first move from any government in the country.”

See Full Guardian Coverage

The South Australian Government has scrapped a process to negotiate treaties with the state’s Aboriginal nations.

It comes on the same day the Northern Territory pledged to work towards a treaty with its Indigenous peoples.

Premier Steven Marshall said his government was instead in the process of developing a “state-wide plan with a series defined outcomes for Aboriginal people across areas including education, child protection, health and jobs”.

“Treaty commissioner Roger Thomas pictured above has provided advice to the incoming government regarding the positives and negatives of the treaty consultation,” Mr Marshall, who is also Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said.

See SA Coverage HERE

 

Part 1

The Northern Territory’s four Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government have today signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (the “Barunga Agreement”), paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty.

A joint meeting of the four Land Councils at Barunga this week voted to empower their Chairmen to sign the MOU.

“This is a momentous day in the history of the Territory, a chance to reset the relationship between the Territory’s First Nations and the Government,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanansi said. “We’ve got big journey ahead of us. The MOU gives us high hopes about the future and I hope the Government stays true to spirit of the MOU.”

 

Central Land Council Chairman Francis Jupurrurla Kelly said: “I hope a treaty will settle us down together and bring us self-determination. Today we bounced the ball but we don’t want to stay the only players in this game. The next steps must be led by Aboriginal people across the Territory so that everyone can run with the ball and have their say.”

Anindilyakwa Land Council Chairman Tony Wurramarrba said: “We celebrate the highly significant step that has been achieved today and will work with the Northern Territory Government and other Land Councils to continue the important work required to achieve the goal of a Northern Territory Treaty.”

Tiwi Land Council Gibson Farmer Illortaminni said: “We’ve got to be careful and understand each other about what we want, because we don’t want to have the same problems we’ve had in the past. The MoU is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go. The Government needs to be honest and transparent.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who signed on behalf of the Government, said: “This is the first day of a new course for the Northern Territory. The MoU we have signed today commits us to a new path of lasting reconciliation that will heal the past and allow for a cooperative, unified future for all.

“A Territory where everyone understands our history, our role in a modern society and our united and joint future will be an important achievement for all Territorians.”

The Territory Labor Government promised soon after the election in 2016 to advance a Treaty, and the MoU is the result of intensive discussions and negotiations between the Land Councils and the Government.

Significantly, the MoU was signed on the first day of the Barunga Sport and Cultural Festival – the 30th anniversary of the presentation of the Barunga Statement to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who went on to promise a Treaty between the Commonwealth and Australia’s Indigenous peoples, but has remained undelivered.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson was at the signing of the agreement with Senator Dodson

Under the terms of the MOU NT Government will appoint an independent Treaty Commissioner who will lead the consultations with Aboriginal people and organisations across the Territory, and develop a framework for Treaty negotiations. The Commissioner will be an Aboriginal person with strong connections to the Territory, and expressions of interest will be called for the position.

The Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government will make their extensive regional staffing networks available to the Treaty Commission to organise consultations in communities.

The MoU prescribes that all Territorians should ultimately benefit from any Treaty, which must provide for substantive outcomes. It’s founded on the agreement that there has been “deep injustice done to Aboriginal people, including violent dispossession, the regression of their languages and cultures and the forcible removal of children from their families, which have left a legacy of trauma and loss that needs to be addressed and healed”.

“The process will begin with an open slate. We will start with nothing on or off the table,” Mr Gunner said.

The MoU acknowledges that there is a range of Aboriginal interests in the Territory, and that all Aboriginal people must have the opportunity to be fully engaged. It further acknowledges that non-Aboriginal people “need to be brought along in this process.”

The document leaves open the possibility of multiple treaties, and lays out a timetable for the work of the Treaty Commissioner.

Part 2 Bill Shorten Speech at Barunga

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

It’s true everywhere on this mighty continent but no more so than here and now: this is, was and always will be Aboriginal land.

I also want to acknowledge, amongst all of the distinguished guests, including Nigel Scullion, I want to acknowledge all the leaders and the Land Council members.

Not just now but those who were here 30 years ago making such significant decisions. And we should remember those who have passed between then and now.

I thank the Bagala mob for having us on their land.

I also want to acknowledge members of the Stolen Generations who are here with us.

And to you, I wish to reiterate the commitment of my party that if we are elected we will provide overdue compensation to the remaining survivors of the Stolen Generations here in the Northern Territory and everywhere else in Australia.

Thirty years ago, the Barunga Statement was made. It was only 327 words but they were powerful.

But let me acknowledge that in the intervening 30 years not enough of the words, or the spirit,  have been kept.

I’m embarrassed the Barunga Statement hangs on a wall in Parliament House and too many members of parliament wouldn’t even know it was there. And too many walk past it, their eyes looking the other way.

But I’m not here today to talk about failure, I want to add words of hope.

When I see and meet the elders and the leaders of the Land Councils, I see hope.

When I see Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Linda Burney – first Australians in the Parliament – I see hope.

When I see so many of you here, here for the music and the sport, here to listen and to learn, I see hope.

Yesterday at Katherine High School, remarkable young teenage girls from the Stars Foundation, I saw hope. Remarkable young Aboriginal boys, teenagers at the Clontarf Foundation, I see hope.

I see hope but I also acknowledge there is unfinished business.

Not unfinished business here but unfinished business across our nation. We have not come far enough.

We need to reset the relationship between our first Australians and all other Australians, we need to change the way we do business.

Not until we are a reconciled nation can any of us help fulfil the destiny this nation has.

We need to change the way we talk to each other and act to each other.

I see that we need to use honour, equality, respect and recognition.

For me coming here is a privilege but it is also a reminder. We need to take the Barunga Statement and use it as a map on our journey to deliver a voice for our first Australians in the parliament and in the constitution.

We need to work towards a Makarrata Commission, a truth-telling commission.

Because until our communities can reconcile a joint narrative about the history of this country, we cannot truly be reconciled.

And we also need to make clear that if we can establish a Voice for our first Australians – the decisions made about them are made with them and by them.

This is not a radical concept. It is nothing less than we should expect in any other circumstances.

We should not be afraid either, of the using our voice and the voice of first Australians to talk about treaties and agreement-making between our first Australians and levels of government within Australia.

I believe that Australians have the goodwill to reconcile this country. What they don’t have is the leadership in this country to drive proper and meaningful reconciliation.

I say to the people who fear the concepts of agreement-making, of a Voice, of treaties.

I say to these people who fear this: you have nothing to lose.

You still will be able to play football on the MCG, your backyard hills-hoists will not be part of any claim, the chickens will still lay eggs.

We are not giving a special deal to our first Australians – because they don’t get a special deal in our country.

A famous man once said, it’s all very well that to say that you lift yourself up by your bootstraps but if you don’t own a pair of boots, you’re not starting from the same position.

So I regard the spirit of Barunga as a reminder to trust the better angels of the nature of the Australian people, to recognise that we can’t honour our country unless we honour our first Australians.

Unless we recognise and respect and have equality this nation will not be the country it should be when – because of the colour of your skin – your life expectancy, your access to healthcare, your educational opportunity, your access to housing and to justice are discriminated against.

So I understand very keenly not just the obligation here but the obligation elsewhere for leadership and I thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this great festival today.

Part 3 Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

Aboriginal leaders and constitutional lawyers have slammed a proposal from Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to replace his job with an indigenous committee, arguing it is “far more radical” than their proposal for a constitutionally enshrined indigenous voice to parliament.

Senator Scullion made the call during an interview at the Barunga Festival near Katherine in the Northern Territory yesterday, declaring the voice to parliament was “nothing” next to the decision-making and policymaking powers that come with his office.

The voice to parliament has been championed by the Referendum Council and would involve an indigenous representative voice being enshrined in the constitution, as called for by indigenous leaders from across Australia in last year’s Uluru Statement.

Aboriginal activist and constitutional law professor Megan Davis was highly critical of Senator Scullion’s idea.

“The proposal to replace a minister of the crown with a group of unelected indigenous leaders is far more radical than what the Uluru reform calls for, a voice to the parliament,” Professor Davis said. “It suggests a lack of understanding of how cabinet government works.”

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton said she believed Aboriginal people were “perfectly well aware” of the power held by the Indigenous Affairs Minister.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for a voice to ­parliament, and I’m pretty sure this was not what was meant by the Uluru indigenous Convention delegates,” Professor Langton said.

Former Kimberley Land Council CEO Nolan Hunter said the idea was unworkable.

“If you applied the same thinking to all the other portfolio areas, how would that work?” he said.

Mr Hunter said Senator Scullion’s idea was a distraction from constructive work the indigenous community had been doing towards the voice to parliament.

Constitutional law professor Cheryl Saunders, who is not indigenous, was also sceptical, tweeting: “So much for the Parliament. And, for that matter, the cabinet.”

Senator Scullion accused the Referendum Council of being “irresponsible” in proposing the voice to parliament without also proposing a question to put to a referendum.

A parliamentary committee co-chaired by Labor senator Pat Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser is examining recognition for indigenous Australians in the constitution, with submissions due today.

Senator Scullion said a voice to ­parliament was “all fluff” compared with the power his job holds.

“It’s my job, mate. It’s my job,” he told Sky News. “I have the money and I have the capacity, not me, but the job has the capacity to allocate funds, to create policy, to create change and to do stuff … Now if you don’t have that you’re just fluffing around the edges. You don’t want a voice to parliament, you don’t want a third chamber … it is nothing next to the decision-making, the policymaking, that comes with my office”.

Asked whether he was proposing putting the powers of his job in the hands of indigenous Australians, Senator Scullion said: “Absolutely. Because they would run their own thing.”

He knew from his interactions with Aboriginal people “that part of what they want is more control. So this should be a part of the conversation, a wider conversation.”

He had not “specifically” discussed his idea with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “My utterances are not necessarily the views of government,” he said.

Aboriginal Health, Healing , Self Determination Reconciliation and a #Treaty : @VACCHO_CEO Jill Gallagher AO named Treaty Advancement Commissioner

 

” Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group and now Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

Read Jill’s Opinion piece in full Part 2 below Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

 ” I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health.

If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life.

The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that. “

Aged 62, Jill Gallagher has lived long enough to have had her sense of the world shaped by some of the sorriest historical aspects of Victoria’s treatment of Aboriginal people.

As a child she accompanied her mother all over the state as she chased seasonal work picking vegetables on farms, one of few lines of employment Aboriginal people were permitted to do.

As Reported in the AGE  : Jill Gallagher has been named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.  Photo: Jason South

And she has an early memory, painful still, of her mother being asked to leave the whites-only Warrnambool hotel.

It was Australia in the early 1960s, before Aboriginal people had been recognised in the constitution or been given the right to vote.

On Tuesday Ms Gallagher took on a job that is meant to shape a much more equal future between the state’s first people and the rest of us, when she was named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

It is the new, leading role in preparing to negotiate the first ever treaty between Aboriginal people and an Australian government.

“What’s happening in Victoria is history making,” Ms Gallagher says of the $28.5 million treaty process.

“It’s never happened before, for any government to actually be serious about wanting to talk to Aboriginal people about treaties.” As commissioner, Ms Gallagher will lead the task of bringing Aboriginal representatives to the negotiating table with government and ensuring everyday Aboriginal voices are heard.

“My role is not to negotiate a treaty or treaties,” she says. “My role is to establish a voice, or representative body, that government can negotiate with.”

By the time treaty negotiations commence, her work as commissioner will have been done and the role will have ceased to exist.

For now the treaty’s terms of reference is a blank sheet of paper.

Its eventual signing could involve years of negotiations between the Aboriginal community and state government.

Aspects of treaties from other nations, such as Canada or New Zealand, may be borrowed from but Ms Gallagher says she hopes Victoria’s model will “stay true to what the need is here in Victoria”. “Treaty is about righting the wrongs of the past but also having the ability to tell the truth,” Ms Gallagher says.

As head of Aboriginal health organisation VACCHO, Ms Gallagher grapples with the lingering failure to “close the gap” of disadvantage between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Victorians, who statistically live shorter lives and in poorer health than the general population.

A report last month by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria acknowledged the inter-generational damage European colonisation did to Aboriginal people, entrenching poverty, racism and disadvantage.

“I see the devastation that colonisation had on my people,” she says.

“I see how it manifests today in many ways such as overrepresentation in the justice system, overrepresentation of children in out-of-home care … So for me treaty is trying to rectify that.”

And as for non-Aboriginals uncertain about what a treaty means for them, Ms Gallagher offers this piece of reassurance: we don’t want your backyard.

Rather, it’s about creating a shared identity.

“I think it will add value to the non-Aboriginal community here in Victoria,” Ms Gallagher says.

“Treaty is about us having the ability to share our very rich, ancient culture, so all Victorians can be proud of our culture.”

Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

*Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group

Originally published in Croakey

As the end of the year rapidly approaches there is a bright ray of hope on the horizon for Aboriginal people living in Victoria, in the form of Treaty.

Working towards Treaty

For almost two years we have been working as a community towards the goal of a Treaty between the First Nations people and the Victorian Government. It’s an historic process, and one that we hope will inspire and guide the rest of Australia, both at a state and national level.

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the process as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group. Our role in this group is not to negotiate a Treaty, but to consult the Aboriginal community on what we would like to see in a representative structure.

We have consulted extensively, and continue to consult, with the Aboriginal Community Assembly meeting in recent weeks and releasing a second statement on Treaty.

Intergenerational trauma

As CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) I’ve been working for the past two decades towards improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I see a Treaty as fundamental to reaching the goal of Closing the Gap on many of our poor health outcomes as Aboriginal people.

Our mob, as we well know, has been disempowered for many, many generations and with disempowerment comes distress, and comes a lack of resilience. Our self-esteem has suffered and there have been so many social, emotional and wellbeing issues

in our community as a result of that disempowerment.

I believe if we are successful in reaching a Treaty it will make a humongous difference in the wellbeing of our people across Victoria. This is about truth telling and healing the past for a better future for Aboriginal people.

Intergenerational trauma is deeply felt in our community from myriad past practices, including the relatively recent Stolen Generations – I work with people born to parents who were stolen, many of my friends were stolen or come from families affected by the woeful policies of the past. In fact, almost 50 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians have a relative who was forcibly removed from their family through the Stolen Generations.

Even right now you just have to consider the disproportionately high number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and the trauma they are suffering from being disconnected from their families, communities and culture. Thankfully the Victorian Government has worked with our communities to help overcome this with its new Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program.

Without doubt intergenerational trauma and a lack of empowerment and resilience leads to inevitable mental illness; we currently have 32 per cent of the Victorian Aboriginal community suffering very high psychological distress, which is three times the non-Aboriginal rate.

Social and emotional wellbeing

But while improving mental health outcomes is incredibly important to our people, it is something that cannot be done in isolation; improving social and emotional wellbeing is also important.

The Aboriginal concept of social and emotional wellbeing is an inclusive term that enables concepts of mental health to be recognised as part of a holistic and interconnected Aboriginal view of health that embraces social, emotional, physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing.

Social and emotional wellbeing emphasises the importance of individual, family and community strengths and resilience, feelings of cultural safety and connection to culture, and the importance of realising aspirations, and experiencing satisfaction and purpose in life.

Importantly, social and emotional wellbeing is a source of resilience that can help protect against the worst impacts of stressful life events for Aboriginal people, and provide a buffer to mitigate risks of poor mental health.

Improving the social and emotional wellbeing of, and mental health outcomes for, Aboriginal people cannot be achieved by any one measure, one agency or sector, or by Aboriginal people alone. It needs to be shaped and led through Aboriginal self-determination with support from government, and that is where Treaty comes in.

A Treaty for healing

I know that many people will dismiss Treaty as a political or public relations stunt. Just look at how the Federal Government has dismissed us on Makaratta. Makarrata is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice. It’s a philosophy that helped develop and maintain lasting peace among the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

Reaching a Makarrata is the goal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was agreed in May this year. It’s hurtful and disrespectful to be asked your opinion on something as important as Makarrata and then to have your ideas and solutions be dismissed.

I am glad to say the Victorian Government is, however, listening to us. I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health. If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life. The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that.

Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.