This is the report of the South Australian Treaty Commissioner Dr Roger Thomas to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, the Hon Kyam Maher MLC, summarising the views of Aboriginal people of the State on treaty and recommending a suitable framework to enable treaty negotiations to begin.
The Treaty Commissioner and staff have been travelling around South Australia talking to as many Aboriginal people as possible about their views on treaty. It met face-to-face with over 600 people and collected more than 280 written submissions and responses to surveys from individuals and groups.
The engagement program aimed to be respectful, unbiased and accessible to as many Aboriginal people of South Australia as possible. As an Aboriginal-led and independent engagement program, activities were sensitive to community protocols and well received by the community at large.
Throughout its travels the Treaty team observed a strong appetite amongst the broader Aboriginal community to discuss what a treaty could mean to them. The high rates of participation and quality of feedback received underlined the passion of Aboriginal people to discuss treaty and be deeply involved from the earliest stages.
Engagements attracted a very wide range of opinions and perspectives. The Treaty team observed a number of common themes raised including: treaty process; historical and existing agreements and policies; truth and redress; social issues; economic empowerment; autonomy and decision making; and representation. The conversation surrounding these common themes, and many more observed, is by no means completed.
Engagements held were well-received and provided a significant input to this report, it is important to note that there remains a section of the South Australian Aboriginal community that need to be consulted. In addition, some groups formed their own internal Treaty working groups whilst others expressed a desire for the Treaty team to hold ongoing engagements to assist with further education and ideas about next steps.
This report recommends that the Treaty team continue consultations throughout the State; the key elements of a framework contained within this report enabling first steps to treaty negotiations to be taken; a set of principles to inform the approach to treaty negotiations; and that this report be made public.
Treaty Commissioner and staff would like to thank the many people who have contributed to the consultations through meeting with us, talking to us on the telephone or completing the on-line survey.