Queensland’s Path to Treaty Progresses in Cairns

path to treaty

Queensland’s Path to Treaty takes another step forward as the Treaty Advancement Committee met in Cairns this week to continue shaping the historic Treaty-making process with First Nations people.

Path to Treaty is the journey to create a new future between First Nations and non-Indigenous Queenslanders.

The Queensland Government started the Path to Treaty conversation with Queenslanders in 2019, with truth-telling and healing at the heart of the dialogue.

Along with Local Thriving Communities, Path to Treaty is one of the first initiatives operating in accordance with the reframed relationship launched as part of the Queensland Government’s Tracks to Treaty.

When Queensland was settled, there was no treaty agreement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first custodians. First Nations peoples were displaced from their land without any negotiation, resulting in political, economic and social inequalities that continue to this day.

A group of experts, the Eminent Panel, was appointed and a Treaty Working Group began the first public conversations about how to move forward. The Eminent Panel is a group of seven distinguished leaders.

The Treaty Working Group led the formal public consultation process and provided a report to the Eminent Panel.

The group made recommendations to the Queensland Government in February 2020.

Co-Chair Dr Jackie Huggins and Committee members Dr Josephine Bourne, Professor Michael Lavarch and Dr Sallyanne Atkinson are meeting with community members in Cairns to discuss the outcomes of the Path to Treaty Report and discuss the next steps towards Treaty in Queensland.

Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said having members of the Committee in Cairns will significantly raise the profile of Queensland’s ongoing Path to Treaty work.

“The Treaty Advancement Committee is in Cairns to continue its important work as they begin consulting on how to implement their recommendations and to reaffirm our government’s commitment to reframe the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” Mr Crawford said.

“The Treaty Advancement Committee is made up of highly respected and knowledgeable leaders and it’s great that the voice of the Cairns community will play an important role in developing the next steps for Path to Treaty.

“From consultations with Queenslanders right across the state we have seen an interest in our Path to Treaty that shows it will have an enduring legacy for generations to come.

“We know that Queenslanders re-elected the Palaszczuk Government to deliver our plan for economic recovery, and to keep Queenslanders safe and healthy.

“And for me this includes ensuring that the two oldest living cultures in our nation also have access to health and wellbeing, and to participate in the economy to be able to realise their aspirations for a promising future.

“The Path to Treaty is about facing the full history of our state. A story that is more than 60,000 years old and steeped in ancient culture that all Queenslanders should be proud of.

“Treaties are a critical tool in promoting reconciliation and setting the foundation for a new and just relationship – one that acknowledges the ongoing disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience and provides a platform for justice, equality and opportunity.

“We must work together to truly reconcile our past with our present in order for us to share our future together.

“It’s only by walking a path built on a foundation of mutual respect, agreement, and truthfulness that we will be in a position to truly reframe our relationship,” he said.

Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy, Minister for the Arts and proud Quandamooka woman, Leeanne Enoch said Queensland has taken the next step in the path to treaty or treaties with the Committee meeting in Cairns today.

“This is an important step towards truth telling in this state, as we acknowledge our sometimes uncomfortable shared past,” Ms Enoch said.

“While we still have a long path ahead of us, the work of the Treaty Advancement Committee is helping us to get one step closer,” she said.

Committee Co-Chair Dr Jackie Huggins said the opportunity to come together in the far north of the state will help shine a light on Queensland’s Path to Treaty journey so far.

“Our role as the Treaty Advancement Committee is to build on the work that’s been done by the Eminent Panel and the Treaty Working Group and shape the next steps,” Dr Huggins said.

“Part of this is about looking at the Eminent Panel’s recommendations and thinking through what those actions will look like as part of the implementation stage,” she said.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui MP said the next steps will be carefully considered to ensure an inclusive process for all Queenslanders.

“This is nation-building work. It’s about reconciling our past so that all Queenslanders can move forward together. To do this, we know that building trust with the broader community and designing culturally safe and meaningful mechanisms for truth-telling will be central to achieving our goals,” Ms Liu said.

“There has been extensive consultation undertaken with Queenslanders right across the State, and these voices, ideas and learnings will be carried forward with us as we work through how the implementation will work.

“Truth-telling was a key community priority that emerged from the 2019 consultations and it will be an ongoing priority for us as a Committee as we deliver our advice and options,” she said.

The Treaty Advancement Committee will report to government on options in the second half of 2021.

Further information / Path to Treaty


The Path to Treaty journey so far:

July 2019 – Launch of Tracks to Treaty Statement of Commitment
September – December 2019 Eminent Panel and Treaty Working Group lead statewide consultation
February 2020 – Eminent Panel and Treaty Working Group report and recommendations delivered to Queensland Government
May 2020 – Queensland Government obtains supplementary advice from the Eminent Panel due to COVID-19
August 2020 – Queensland Government Treaty Statement of Commitment and response
February 2021 – Appointment of the Treaty Advancement Committee


Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts, The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, The Honourable Craig Crawford


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