Public support for Treaty-making surging to new highs

Nov 24, 2022

New polling data released this week by Reconciliation Australia shows support for Treaty-making continues to build amongst both First Nations people and the general population across Australia.

The 2022 Australian Reconciliation Barometer report, which outlines various social attitudes about reconciliation, race relations, equality and understanding about history, revealed that 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the idea of a Treaty between Government and First Peoples and 72% of the general community are also on board.

These figures represents a nearly 20% increase in support amongst the general public since Reconciliation Australia’s the last report in 2020.

The Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, said the findings reflected her experience on the ground in Victoria.

“Momentum for Treaty is growing every day. Our people know this is our chance to put Traditional Owners in the driver’s seat when it comes to the decisions that affect our communities, our culture and our Country, and non-Aboriginal people know it’s key if we want to build a better future together as equals,” said Aunty Geraldine.

The trend is also reflected in the Assembly’s own research which suggests that there’s been a 15% increase in support for Treaty amongst the general population in Victoria over the last 4 years while the Assembly developed a framework and process for Treaty-making in Victoria.

Assembly Co-Chair, proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, Marcus Stewart, said he wasn’t surprised support was growing so swiftly given Treaty was an increasingly tangible possibility.

“We’re making such good progress here in Victoria that people are getting a sense of what’s possible and better understanding the process. They can see that Treaty will deliver real improvements to the lives of our people,” said Mr Stewart.

The report also highlights wide recognition of the importance of truth-telling and an eagerness amongst the general community to know more about First Nations culture.

“The time is ripe. People want to see Treaty happen, because they want to see injustices addressed and the power imbalance fixed, they want to be on the right side of history, and they want to see the oldest living culture on the planet getting the respect it deserves,” said Mr Stewart.

The Assembly will hold its elections in 2023 so First Nations communities in Victoria can choose who will represent them in negotiations with the Victorian Government over a state-wide Treaty. Meanwhile the various Traditional Owners of Country in Victoria will be able to access a newly created Self Determination Fund to help them prepare for negotiations with the Government for Treaties specific to their area.

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