Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


Terra nullius was long ago exposed as a myth – and this was enshrined in law with the Mabo case in 1992. But if we acknowledge that Australia was colonised on a lie, then what should we do about it? How do we compensate for that centuries-old theft? It’s too late to reverse, but official recognition of the sovereign rights of Indigenous Australians is well overdue.

True reconciliation between Indigenous and immigrant Australians is impossible without addressing past wrongs – you can’t heal a wound without treating it. But how do we do that?

Many believe that a treaty is essential – our neighbour New Zealand and contemporary Canada have established treaties, recognised by the UN. Others think it’s enough to implement constitutional change that recognises indigenous cultures, languages and peoples.

In this video, our panel debates the need for a treaty – and the way to achieve true reconciliation. Chaired by Wheeler Centre director Michael Williams, with speakers George Williams, Mark Yettica-Paulson, Mick Dodson, Peter Sutton, Tony Birch and Gregory Phillips.

To skip to the results of the debate, click here.

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