The South Australian government will commence treaty discussions with Aboriginal South Australians as the next step towards reconciliation and building Aboriginal governance in the state.

The government has set aside $4.4 million over five years to support the treaty process, the appointment of an Independent Commissioner for Treaty, and governance training and support for Aboriginal nations to participate in the treaty negotiations.

The landmark announcement would, for the first time in Australia’s history, commit a state to tailored negotiations with separate Aboriginal nations, to recognise the cultural authority of Australia’s first people, and consider the consequences of settlement.

Negotiations will be open-ended, with no presumed treaty outcomes or form.

Background

The announcement coincides with the first official leader to leader meeting between the government and the first three Aboriginal Regional Authorities at Parliament House today.

In an Australian first, the Aboriginal Regional Authority Policy formally recognises Aboriginal organisations responsible for representing and advocating for their communities, driving regional priorities and economic growth, and working in partnership with government on key issues.

Quotes attributable to Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Kyam Maher

Today marks an important day for all of the people of South Australia with the logical next step being taken towards reconciliation by commencing treaty discussions.

Treaty is an important step towards addressing the wrongs of the past. The fact that so many Aboriginal people to this day face such significant disadvantage remains the greatest stain on our society.

The best policies come about through community involvement and treaty will rely upon strong engagement from the Aboriginal community in our state.

Discussions will include consideration of how, in the future, government and communities will design and deliver services and policy.

The road ahead to negotiate and agree on the terms of treaties will not be simple, but it is a crucial step that must be made towards reconciliation.