Listening needed to talk treaty

Posted on: Tue 25 Jul 2017

Aboriginal people in South Australian embrace and value the opportunity to discuss treaty with the SA Government, says SA Native Title Services CEO Keith Thomas.

His statement comes after Opposition Leader Steven Marshall told the Sunday Mail that plans for treaty are unworkable and not a priority for Aboriginal communities in South Australia.

“Talk of treaty offers important hope, opportunity and the chance of a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal South Australians” Mr Thomas said.

“Our discussions with Traditional Owner representatives across the state have shown that people embrace the chance to talk treaty.

“They appreciate the opportunity for the errors of the past to be acknowledged and the relationship to be reset, allowing the whole community to move forward in a positive way” he said.

Mr Marshall made his remarks just as Treaty Commissioner Dr Roger Thomas is due to hand his report on South Australian Aboriginal people’s views about treaty to the Government.

Over the past few months, Commissioner Thomas has been consulting with Aboriginal people in South Australia about treaty. The Commission has received two hundred written submissions and conducted more than five hundred conversations at over forty-five community meetings.

Initial feedback from the consultations indicates that South Australian Aboriginal people are overwhelmingly in support of state-based treaty. 85 – 90% of those asked said that they did want to pursue treaty.

“It’s a pity that Mr Marshall has made these seemingly unconsidered statements on treaty before this summary of Aboriginal South Australian’s carefully collected views have been officially heard” said Mr Thomas.

“All we ask of the Liberals and Mr Marshall is that they stop and listen carefully to what Aboriginal people in South Australia are saying on this matter” he said.

In his comments on Sunday, Mr Marshall was reported as saying that under a Liberal government ‘symbolism will be scrapped and health, education, jobs and safety prioritised’.

“Exploring broader and significant questions like treaty does not rule out practical outcomes. Of course those practical challenges are always a priority” said Mr Thomas.

“That does not diminish the importance of the acknowledgement, truth telling and formal recognition that can take place through treaty” said Mr Thomas.


SANTS is the Native Title Service Provider for South Australia under the Native Title Act and represents Traditional Owners across the state

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