1 About the Agreement
The purpose of this Agreement is to establish the Treaty Authority by agreement between the Aboriginal Representative Body and the State in accordance with Part 4 of the Treaty Act.
The objects of the Treaty Authority are:
- to facilitate the journey towards reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance between the First Peoples and other people of the State
- and to maintain, promote and advance the self-determination and empowerment, culture and human rights of First Peoples.
1.3 Central tenets
The central tenets for the Agreement that inform its every element are:
Guiding principles under the Treaty Act
The Treaty Authority follows the guiding principles for the Treaty Process in the Treaty Act:
- self-determination and empowerment
- fairness and equality
- partnership and good faith
- mutual benefit and sustainability and
- transparency and accountability.
Observe and uphold self-determination and empowerment of First Peoples
- The Treaty Authority comprises First Peoples and observes and upholds Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority and the self-determination of First Peoples.
- In observing and upholding Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority, the Treaty Authority recognises that the meaning of Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority varies between communities and are matters for Traditional Owner groups and other First Peoples’ groups to self-determine.
- The Treaty Authority’s processes are culturally strong, culturally safe, trauma-informed and address the power imbalance between First Peoples in Victoria and the State.
Independence and impartiality
- The Treaty Authority is free from interference by the Parties, the Negotiating Parties under the Framework, and other Traditional Owner and other First Peoples’ groups.
- Members are appointed through an independent process to ensure an independent body.
- The Treaty Authority meets standards and has processes necessary to ensure that it remains impartial and it performs its functions so that its decisions and actions are fair and culturally sound.
- The Treaty Authority is publicly accountable to the people of the State.
- The Treaty Authority is culturally accountable to First Peoples.
- In the performance of its functions and duties, the Treaty Authority will assume responsibility for and be accountable for its decisions and actions.
- The Treaty Authority respects and listens to Elders, through the Elders’ Voice, whose role it is to provide cultural and ethical advice and share wisdom about the Treaty Process.
Relationships and facilitating Treaty-making
- In the performance of its functions and duties, the Treaty Authority adopts approaches that preserve, restore and build ongoing, just and respectful relationships between First Peoples and the State as well as between First Peoples’ groups.
- The Treaty Authority supports the Negotiating Parties throughout the Treaty Process to work together to reach agreements and enter Treaties that observe and uphold the self- determination of First Peoples and lead to strong ongoing relationships,
Integrity of the Treaty Process for all
- The Treaty Authority is entrusted by First Peoples and the other people of the State to perform functions under this Agreement, the Framework and the Treaty Act.
- In the performance of its functions and duties, the Treaty Authority observes and upholds Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority, while recognising that it operates in a context with First Peoples and the State and other parties who are not First Peoples.
- The Treaty Authority will consider the cultural and operational context of all Negotiating Parties and in doing so ensure a strong Treaty Process for all people of the State.
1.4 Aboriginal Lore and Law and Cultural Authority
As recognised by the UNDRIP, Aboriginal Lore and Law forms a legal system. Aboriginal Lore and Law has equal footing with the Western legal system. It includes a body of authority that informs agreement-making, decision-making and governance structures, including rules about Eldership and who holds Cultural Authority.
Traditional Owner groups and other First Peoples’ groups have differing governance systems, kinship structures, cultural protocols and obligations, and differing rules about who has Cultural Authority. For this reason, the meaning of Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority varies between communities. They are matters for Traditional Owner groups and other First Peoples’ groups to self-determine.
In circumstances where the Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority of one community conflicts with another community’s Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority, the Treaty Authority will facilitate agreement between the relevant groups to a set of cultural protocols, obligations and rules to apply to the matters being discussed and decided, based on shared cultural values.
This section should be read in conjunction with the Framework. Together, these clauses set out the Parties’ understanding of how Aboriginal Lore, Law and Cultural Authority will be observed and upheld in the Treaty Process.
Aboriginal Lore and Law has the meaning given by clause 1.4.
Aboriginal Representative Body means the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria Ltd declared to be the Aboriginal Representative Body under section 11 of the Treaty Act or any subsequent body declared to be the Aboriginal Representative Body under section 18 of the Treaty Act.
Agreement means this agreement made between the Parties dated 6 June 2022.
Cultural Authority has the meaning given by clause 1.4.
Elders’ Voice means the Committee of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria or an equivalent body established with the approval of the Parties for Elders to provide cultural and ethical advice and share wisdom about the Treaty Process.
First Peoples means:
- Traditional Owners of Country in Victoria and
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are living in the place now known as Victoria.
Framework means the Treaty Negotiation Framework established by agreement between the Parties under section 30 of the Treaty Act.
Indigenous Data as endorsed by delegates at the 2018 Indigenous Data Sovereignty Summit, refers to information or knowledge, in any format or medium, which is about and may affect First Peoples both collectively and individually.
Indigenous Data Governance as endorsed by delegates at the 2018 Indigenous Data Sovereignty Summit, refers to the right of First Peoples to autonomously decide what, how, and why Indigenous Data is collected, accessed, disclosed and used. It ensures that data on or about First Peoples reflects First Peoples’ priorities, values, cultures, worldviews, and diversity.
Indigenous Data Sovereignty as endorsed by delegates at the 2018 Indigenous Data Sovereignty Summit, refers to the rights of First Peoples to exercise ownership over Indigenous Data.
Ownership of Indigenous Data can be expressed through the creation, collection, access, analysis, interpretation, management, dissemination, and reuse of Indigenous Data.
Member means an individual appointed to the Treaty Authority under clause 5.
Negotiating Party has the meaning given to that term under the Framework.
Panel means the panel established under clause 6.
Panellist means an individual appointed to the Panel under clause 6.2.
Party means the parties to this Agreement, being the Aboriginal Representative Body and the State of Victoria.
Recruiter means an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander controlled agency, which is independent of the Parties, and engaged by the Aboriginal Representative Body with agreement of the State to conduct the recruitment part of the appointment process under clause 7.
State means the State of Victoria.
Traditional Owner has the meaning given to that term under the Framework.
Treaty Act means the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 (Vic).
Treaty Authority means the Treaty Authority established by agreement between the Parties under section 27 of the Treaty Act.
Treaty Authority Act means the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Act 2022 (Vic).
Treaty Process means Treaty negotiations under the Framework.
UNDRIP means the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007.
3.1 Principles of interpretation
This Agreement should be interpreted in a way that is consistent with the Treaty Act and the Treaty Authority Act. In the event of any conflict between this Agreement and the Treaty Act or the Treaty Authority Act, the Treaty Act or the Treaty Authority Act prevails (as the case may be).
An interpretation of the Agreement that promotes the purpose and the central tenets under clause 1 will be preferred to an interpretation of the Agreement that would not promote that purpose or those central tenets.
This Agreement should be interpreted by reference to Aboriginal Lore and Law as a substantive body of authority, including the collective nature of First Peoples’ rights and responsibilities, except to the extent of any inconsistency with the Treaty Act and applicable laws of the State and the Commonwealth.
References to decisions and actions of the Treaty Authority are references to activities of the Treaty Authority done in the course of performing its functions and duties and exercising its powers under this Agreement, the Framework, the Treaty Act and the Treaty Authority Act. Such activities include advising, making recommendations, dispute resolution and giving directions to Negotiating Parties under the Framework and the Treaty Act.
3.2 Interpretation rules
The general interpretation rules in this Agreement are set out in Schedule A.
Reviewed 28 October 2022