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Treaty Forum - 26 to 27 May 2016

The first statewide treaty forum was held by the former Aboriginal Victoria to bring together the Aboriginal community and agree on how to advance self-determination, treaty and a representative body.

Forum overview

The state-wide forum followed four regional forums that were held in Mildura, Horsham, Shepparton and Bairnsdale. A treaty session was also held at the April 2016 Koorie Youth Summit.  

The forum included a range of Victorian, interstate and international speakers, including:

  • community representatives
  • academics
  • youth representatives

The then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, attended and spoke at the forum. The Premier also addressed the forum via video. 

The forum was held over two days, with 400 people in attendance and over 4,000 people watching online. There were 267,000 interactions on social media during the week of the forum.

The community was also able to connect and listen to the discussion on NITV.

Find a summary video from the forum

Key topics discussed 


The forum heard that there is strong evidence that self-determination can lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians when supported by strong governance. 


Discussions about what a treaty could include referred to land, resources, economic development, intellectual property, parliamentary representation, as well as social, cultural and educational issues.

Representative structures 

There were a range of views about how representatives should be chosen to negotiate a treaty. A number of factors were raised, including:

  • need for inclusiveness
  • importance of Traditional Owner, Elder and youth involvement
  • potential role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Local Aboriginal Networks, and Registered Aboriginal Parties

Key messages from the forum

Achieving self-determination requires a commitment to work together. The self-determination agenda must be informed by strong input from, and in  negotiation with, the Aboriginal community.

  • Aboriginal representation should be inclusive and reflect the Victorian Aboriginal community’s diversity. 
  • Communication should be open and transparent so everyone knows and understands the processes and actions.
  • The Aboriginal community should be resourced to engage in negotiations in an informed and equal way.
  • Domestic and international examples (e.g. Canada, New Zealand) will be considered during this process. 
  • Bipartisan support is crucial and should be sought out.  

Key actions from the forum

  • Forum attendees agreed to continue the forum discussions with their families and clans.
  • An Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group developed a process for the next phase of the agenda.
  • More work was agreed to be done on treaty models and options.