Australia Tasmanian government commits to time frame for truth-telling, treaty talks with Indigenous community

23:26  22 june  2021
23:26  22 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a group of people standing in front of a building: © Provided by ABC NEWS "There was a war declared on Tasmanian Aboriginals," Rodney Dillon says. (ABC News: Katri Uibu)

In a recent exhibition curated by Tasmanian artist Julie Gough, a map from 1831 was displayed showing red lines drawn across Van Diemen's Land.

It was a field plan of military movements entitled Military Operations against the Aboriginal Inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, and it was shown by the artist as evidence of a war against Tasmania's Aboriginal people.

Rodney Dillon from the Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance wants such events from the state's history to be at the heart of upcoming "truth-telling" and treaty discussions between Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the Tasmanian government.

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"There was a war declared here on Tasmanian Aboriginals and … we're still here today," Mr Dillon said.

'Let's get on with it'

Premier Peter Gutwein has appointed Tasmania's former governor, Kate Warner, and law professor Tim McCormack to lead talks with the state's Aboriginal community in an effort to find a path to reconciliation and a treaty.

"This will be … a sincere engagement whereby we want to work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people," Mr Gutwein said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"I think it's an important body of work and one that will be provided back to me as a report later this year, which I will then table in Parliament."

Michael Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre welcomed the announcement, saying he was committed to the process and its time frame.

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"The Premier has said, 'Let's get something before the Parliament in three months,' … I like that. Let's get on with it," Mr Mansell said.

Mr Mansell said he expected there would be meetings with Aboriginal people in Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Cape Barren and Flinders islands to discuss what a treaty might look like and what may need to be returned to the community.

Mr Gutwein said there was already a review underway in Tasmania looking at the return of land.

"In terms of land returns … I would make the point it was the Liberal Party that was the first government in this state to proceed with land returns and we've always had an open mind to further land returns," he said.

Mr Dillon said the return of resources also needed to be on the table.

"Whether it's areas of the forest or whether its water rights or particular parts of the ocean, marine reserves, Indigenous protected areas — all these things are going to have to be taken into account with this treaty," he added.

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Mr Mansell indicated compromise would be a part of the treaty process.

"Count us in. Even if we have got to tailor our requests to be within reach of the government, then we will have a look at that," he said.

Mr Dillon said the Premier's move was a good start that showed decency.

He said for the state to "heal" it was important for the truth to be told in education.

"I see some old people — and I'd probably call them rednecks, they'd just call themselves run of the mill people — but they've never been told the truth," he said.

"They believe what they were told at school, so I don't blame them for their manner or way of thinking … it's just they've never been told the truth.

"I think that's one of the biggest problems we have — is that teachers are still not teaching the truth of the history of this country … [We need to be] getting all teachers up to a national or state standard so they can tell the truth.

"That truth is very important and needs to be told."

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