Indigenous Leaders Say They’re Sick Of Being “Experimented On”
“We are not experiments”.
posted on Mar. 17, 2016, at 1:09 p.m.
BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia
Yingiya Guyula, a senior Yolngu elder from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, has called for a greater focus on a treaty between Indigenous people and the federal government, dismissing constitutional recognition as a toothless tiger.
“We Aboriginal people have the solutions. We just need [the federal government] to invest in that. I’m travelling around the country talking about a treaty, about recognition of our sovereignty. We were here before the British and we need it to be recognised that our law and our system of government is valid,” Guyula tells BuzzFeed News.
Guyula has been travelling the country lobbying for a treaty on behalf of the Yolngu Nations Assembly (YNA), a grassroots organisation that was formed in 2011.
“We want real decision-making responsibilities when it comes to our people, our children. Treaty needs to come before recognition,” he says.
The YNA is a formidable voice within Indigenous affairs, it represents several clan groups across north-east Arnhem Land and has a mandate to ensure that their traditional Madayin law and governance is practiced alongside Australian law.
For the Yolngu, life without Madayin law would mean the extinction of culture in an area where everyday life is still governed by ancient traditions and familial structures. English is, for many, a second language.
The assembly includes several high profile family groups and members who’ve been involved with consulting different federal governments over several decades.
Guyula wants a treaty that will give power to the Yolngu people to make decisions over what happens on their land, including education, employment and housing.
He points to past policies like former Prime Minister John Howard’s Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), known as The Intervention, along with Labor’s Stronger Futures, as failures because they were forced onto people.
“We were hit by ‘The Intervention’, then Stronger Futures. We are still feeling the effects of those policies,” Guyula says.
“Those policies took powers off our senior elders. Funding was cut for our homelands. Our legs were cut off. Enough, we are not to be experimented on”.
The backlash against the push for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people is gaining momentum across the country.Stefan Postles / Getty ImagesDespite having bipartisan support from both sides of parliament, a large-scale media campaign to garner support from the public, and the recruitment of Indigenous leaders to consult on the process, there is still no consensus on what form recognition would take.
Meetings between the government and Indigenous leaders have failed to break the impasse over the past year, with those talks failing to come up with a question to put to the public in a referendum, making Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s hope of having a referendum by next year unlikely.
While support for constitutional recognition stagnates, the talk around treaties has gotten louder. Last month the Victorian government announced it would begin talks with the Koorie community to work out Australia’s first treaty.Allan Clarke / BuzzFeed“At the end of the day it’s pretty disappointing that we, in the year 2016, don’t have a treaty or a national arrangement with our First Peoples,” Victoria’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins recently told the ABC.
“In fact, Canada have been doing it for a long time, New Zealand has successfully done it, so it’s time for Australia to step up,” Hutchins said.
Guyula tells BuzzFeed News that Victoria’s willingness to enter into talks has buoyed the Yolngu hopes of a treaty, saying that the time for symbolism is over.
“The treaty I am talking about gives real power to our people, it’s not Kevin Rudd’s one time say ‘we are sorry’”.
“Lots of politicians say ‘we are sorry, we recognise you’, but a treaty needs to be sitting down with the people and giving them the power to govern and fix their own problems,” he says.
With the endorsement of the YNA, Guyula will be running as in an Independent for the seat of Nhulunbuy in August at the Northern Territory election, he says constitutional recognition should come after a treaty.
“Stop putting money in Recognise, we should be working with Indigenous people first to make a treaty, then after that, we can talk about changing the constitution”.
Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at email@example.com.
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 To Treaty and beyond
The Yolŋu people of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory have begun a new push for a treaty with the Federal Government that recognises their sovereignty in their land.
Semisi Kailahi reports.
Yolŋu leader Yingiya Mark Guyula of the Yolŋu Nations Assembly concluded his national tour for treaty awareness in Sydney this week.
He told the audience at Sydney Trades Hall that the treaty should not only give his people legal rights, but recognise his Yolŋu Nation’s own law system and create a new state within the Australian federation.
“Such recognition would be consistent with the principles of Mabo’s case,” says Guyula.
The Yolŋu want a treaty which “protects legal rights” but Guyula insists “we must go beyond that”. The reason for going further than established legal protections is based upon the idea which underpins his whole campaign - “We should have a say over our own community, our own land, our own lives.”
Speaking from his perspective as a Yolŋu leader, Guyula describes the long-established traditions of Madayin law and governance, systems that pre-date the Westminster system, and how they are being “pushed aside”.
The leaders of Indigenous communities, he says are being “disempowered” and that a treaty is the answer.
The Yolŋu have raised issues of treaty and sovereignty with the Australian Government on numerous occasions.
They were the authors of the Yirrkala Bark Petition in 1963 - the first traditional documents prepared by Indigenous Australians to be recognised by the Australian Parliament.
Similar appeals were made in the Barunga statement of 1988, a petition to former Prime Minister John Howard in 1998, and a petition to his successor Kevin Rudd in 2008.
“The message is clear,” said Guyula.
“But for non-Indigenous Australia our continuing demand for a treaty often invokes blank faces, disbelief, confusion, or thoughtless rejection… or a bit of everything.”
To pursue treaty Guyula says we need to address the ‘extreme ignorance’ of non-Indigenous Australians.
His week-long national tour of speaking engagements in Darwin, Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Redfern and Sydney is about raising awareness to combat these attitudes.
Guyula sees treaty as a matter of survival. “It is self-determination and self-governance… or it is impoverishment, exile, chains and death”.
He points to successive government interventions that have failed to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous Australians.
By contrast he says the Madayin law system protects and defends community members. and he rejects defenders of the Intervention as “trying to create a moral argument to take over and control”.
Mark Guyula isn’t waiting for a response from the Federal or NT Government either.
He’s decided to advance the cause of treaty by running as an Independent candidate for the seat of Nhulunbuy at this year’s Northern Territory elections.
The outcome of that seat will be closely watched as he’s received the endorsement of the Yolŋu Nations Assembly.
The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to exploring the issues of treaty and sovereignty with its partners in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress.
At its 14th Assembly meeting in Perth in July 2015, the Uniting Church of Australia agreed to support Constitutional recognition as a “step towards and not a blockage to the larger issues of sovereignty and treaty.”
The Assembly also committed to work with Congress to “educate members of the Church about the need for a treaty” and to highlight issues faced by First Peoples.
In his Survival Day message on 26 January and his soon-to-be released Easter message, the President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has called for a wider national conversation about sovereignty and Treaty.
The Guardian Australia has also reported on Yingiya Mark Guyula's treaty awareness raising tour.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, pictured outside the National Maritime Museum in Sydney. (IMAGE: Newtown grafitti, Flickr)
Treaty Yeah! Momentum Grows For National Agreements
By Liam McLoughlin on March 13, 2016 Aboriginal Affairs There’s a growing push among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Treaty. Liam McLoughlin reports.
“Everything the government is doing is disempowering us, it’s taking our thinking away, to make up our own minds and decide for our own the lifestyle that we want to live… Treaty is the only way that we can negotiate and accept one another… we must sit down together and negotiate and recognise both laws. You recognise my law and I recognise your law and we work together towards the future of my children.”
These are the words of Yingiya Mark Guyula, a Yolngu Nations Assembly spokesperson who lives in Arnhem Land under the Northern Territory Intervention. Yingiya has made Treaty the central plank in his campaign for the seat of Nhulunbuy at the upcoming Northern Territory election and is currently on a nationwide Treaty awareness and fundraising tour.
He will join four other prominent Aboriginal men to speak out for Treaty at a forum in Redfern this Monday. Interviewing all participants prior to the event was a remarkable opportunity to do what white Australia so often fails to do: listen to Aboriginal people.
The endemic failure to listen to and respect Australia’s First Peoples has much to do with the current crisis of Indigenous suicide. This week we learnt a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl took her own life in far north Western Australia. The news comes after the suicide of an 11-year-old Geraldton boy, Peter Liddle, in 2014, and the suicide of 19 Indigenous people in remote areas since December 2015. Indigenous children are close to nine times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous children.
In response to the latest tragedy, Indigenous writers Stan Grant and Nakkiah Lui have called on Australians to examine the history and political context for this crisis. Grant writes, “We are connected directly to the darkness of our past. We are born out of the legacy of dispossession and suffering and injustice. The crippling malaise that sits at the heart of black communities and lives in this country is seeded in that still unresolved grievance that underpins the Australian settlement: Terra Nullius.”
Aboriginal writer, activist, comedian and playwright, Nakkiah Lui.Lui writes from personal experience. “That Aboriginal teen I talk about, the one who saw no space for her in this world, thought about killing herself, every day, multiple times a day. I heard “Abo” jokes every day at school. Every day I was made to feel ashamed of who I was. No matter how hard my parents tried to make me proud and strong, you cannot turn a blind eye to systematic oppression – especially when you’re a child.”
She adds, “Something needs to change. Drastically and fast.”
Aboriginal people have been clear about what needs to change for over two centuries. It’s never been more urgent to listen to First Nations Peoples and heed their calls for Treaty.
The Right Thing To Do
As argued in a recent New Matilda column, there has long been a resounding call from Aboriginal communities for Treaty or treaties, and for good reason.
According to Terry Mason, Awakabal man and Chair of the National Tertiary Education Union’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee: “There is a total failure to recognise the damage that’s been done to Aboriginal peoples and communities and the means to redress that.”
Treaties, by recognising Aboriginal Sovereignty, could do much to redress the damage.
“Sovereignty is the core of the problems in this country and always has been, and treaties may be a way of negotiating the relationship that now exists between Aboriginal people as sovereign and the rest of the population of this country,” Mason says.
Treaties would mean for many Aboriginal people “a substantial strengthening of their relationship with land, the ability to utilise the resources that belong to them and to be able then to address in a true sense of self determination, their own future, their own health needs, their own education needs, and the way their communities are governed”.
For Australia’s only Indigenous Senior Counsel, Wiri man, Tony McAvoy, treaties can address the wrongs of the past and offer promise for the future.
“I see the failure to deal with the historical injustices in this country as the main impediment to a joint future, a future in which Aboriginal people including my own children don’t have to continually struggle for some rectification of the record and… they can look towards the future in a more respectful relationship [with non-Indigenous Australians],” he says.
McAvoy also says “there is a real national need for some reckoning and some closure. The whole notion that Australia was “settled” relies upon centuries old legal principles to the effect that we, Aboriginal people, are somehow a lesser form of human than the British. That Australia continues to rely upon those principles is damning and the immorality of it is something that most Australians will be able to appreciate.”
Narungga Elder and Aboriginal advocate Tauto Sansbury is succinct when asked why he’s passionate about Treaty. “I think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s about time and it’s well overdue.”
He says Treaty is part of the unfinished business created by the lie of white ‘settlement’. “We’ve never been recognised, we’ve never been negotiated with, we’ve never been spoken to,” says Sansbury. He believes it’s this failure to negotiate inside a Treaty process that has led to much injustice for Aboriginal people.
Sansbury believes we need to follow the examples of other nations. “Every other colonised country that’s been invaded by the Poms have settled a Treaty – the Canadians, the Maoris in New Zealand. Australia is lagging in doing that.”
In following the examples of these other nations, Treaty would “give a lot more comfort and a lot more security for Aboriginal people to know that there is going to be a future and a future far better than the one at this present moment.”
Renowned Aboriginal educator, Dr Chris Sarra from the Stronger Smarter Institute.Dr Chris Sarra, Gurang Gurang man and Founding Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute also sees Treaty as transformative.
“It would cause a change in the entire relationship between white Australia and Aboriginal Australia and it would prove to Aboriginal people that white Australia has finally grown up and acknowledged in an honourable way that as Aboriginal people we were here first, and we had and maintain a sovereign interest in our connection to country.”
For Yingiya Mark Guyula, Treaty is about the acknowledgement of a basic fact. “We know what is right for our people… government thinks what is right for us, but we know what is right for us,” he says.
Journalist and long time advocate for Aboriginal rights, Jeff McMullen, offers a stark contrast between the status quo and Treaty.
“Whereas the current constitution and almost all Australian law is through the filter of dominance, of continuing attempts to assimilate and disempower Aboriginal people, Treaty would be a mutual commitment to be fair and from that basis you have the prospect of a unified nation, one that recognises the diversity of the peoples here and a fresh start on a constitution that actually represents us in the 21st century,” said McMullen.
“I cannot point to an Aboriginal policy that has been truly decided by Aboriginal people. All of the ongoing government oppressive policy is decided by the rulers. And the rulers are not necessarily carrying out the will of the bulk of Australians. It is a very ideological agenda, as it has been from the start of white settlement and white government in this modern nation.
“It is not casual discrimination, it is intentional. It is aimed at subjecting Aboriginal people, continuing to dispossess them and expecting that only through assimilation will their cultures be destroyed, absorbed to such a point that they homogenised into meaninglessness.”
McMullen believes Treaty is the process needed to mend this broken relationship with Aboriginal people. He adds Treaty is a negotiated settlement which offers “a way to address the rightful recognition, the injustices, the reparation, and the fair share of the bounty of this country”.
The Swelling Of ResistanceMany of these forum participants sense gathering momentum behind calls for a Treaty or treaties, and a flat out rejection of the tokenistic Recognise campaign. In early February, a meeting of 500 Aboriginal people from across Victoria quickly and unanimously passed the motion “We as Sovereign People reject Constitutional Recognition”.
All present but one then assented to the motion, “We demand the state resources a treaty process, including a framework for treaties, with complete collaboration with all Sovereign Peoples and Nations, and treaties are finalised and agreed upon by December 2016”.
As a result the Victorian government has announced it will begin Treaty negotiations with First Nations People.
Terry Mason was one of the Aboriginal people who attended this meeting. Mason sees how this potent rejection of government policy and this assertion of sovereignty resonate with the will of Indigenous Australians across the country. He points to “the absolute drive that is picked up amongst Aboriginal people at a grassroots and community level and also amongst non-Aboriginal people over some of the most disgusting moves we’ve seen in this country for a very long time”.
Aboriginal resistance to the forced closure of Indigenous communities is “the driving force that has closed down the centre of Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne on several occasions and there is a growing concern particularly amongst young people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, that this reflects poorly on them. It’s that type of fundamental understanding that this is damaging everyone in this country that gives me hope that we can now fully engage in some of these discussions and it won’t go away,” he says.
Other panellists also see this widespread rejection of Recognise, and embrace of Treaty.
The historic consultation session hosted by the Victorian Government, to seek the views of Aboriginal people on constitutional recognition and self determination. (IMAGE: NTEU ATSI Caucus).Tony McAvoy says while there is a small percentage of Aboriginal people who do want the kind of symbolic recognition the government is offering, “there’s a much larger percentage of people who want real, tangible acknowledgement of their position in this country”.
Dr Chris Sarra thinks for most Aboriginal people, genuine constitutional recognition should go together with Treaty.
“The view from most people is that it shouldn’t be one or the other. Recognition in the constitution is important but that should not stop us from the ultimate goal of establishing a Treaty,” says Sarra.
Tauto Sansbury is more damning of constitutional recognition as it stands.
“Recognise is something that I’m totally opposed to because we’ve been recognised in the South Australian Constitution just recently, and it’s given us nothing.
“I don’t want to be recognised in the Constitution at this present moment until other business is dealt with, and the biggest business that we are talking about now – and Aboriginal people right across Australia are doing it – is a Treaty.
“There is a right track and there is a wrong track. The right track is Treaty, the wrong track is Recognise.”
From the biggest cities to the most remote parts of this land, Treaty is foremost for Aboriginal people. The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land are very clear about what they want.
Yingiya Mark Guyula says: “We want Treaty. We want a partnership. We want a dialogue in decision-making. We want diplomatic talks with the government – the Yolngu government and the Balanda [non-Indigenous] government.”
According to Jeff McMullen, these insistent calls for Treaty have a long history.
“It would be 50 years that I’ve heard the call from Aboriginal people for Treaty and I’ve watched politicians flirt with that expectation but never ever deliver on the promise.”
He has seen how expectations for Treaty “have been raised over and over again and in almost every case it’s been political treachery by governments that has let down Aboriginal people enormously”.
“When the nation now asks Aboriginal people to clearly express how they want to be recognised, overwhelmingly most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people say they want a legal agreement, a maccerata, a treaty,” McMullen says.
“There is a swelling of Aboriginal resistance and a very defiant and clear expression of the Aboriginal will that is occurring around the country. I would challenge all Australians to go to their local Aboriginal organisation in their community and you will find that what is on most lips is the concept of Treaty.
“Only a legal empowerment, not just a tokenistic expression of recognition… can address the most pressing issues and the oppression that really are very painful for Aboriginal people in your own community.”
For The Benefit Of All Australians
McMullen is lucid about the benefits of Treaty for Indigenous peoples, saying “the disastrous state of Aboriginal health, the over-incarceration and disproportionate amount of suicide of young Aboriginal people – these terrifying facts will not change until Aboriginal people are legally recognised – genuine sovereignty and rightful self-determination”.
The immense benefits of Treaty are clear for Indigenous Australians, but they also extend to non-Indigenous Australians, says Dr Chris Sarra.
“In a psychological sense I think [the absence of Treaty]has caused much damage to Indigenous Australians because it’s almost denying our very humanity and connection to country, which we’ve known has existed all along.
“Ultimately that damages white Australian society as well, because they’re the ones living with the lie and it’s time to stop.”
Sarra says a Treaty would speak well of mainstream Australians.
Respected Australian journalist, Jeff McMullen.“[It would show] they’ve matured to a point where they’ve moved beyond the negative stereotypical view of the First Australians. It would show that they’ve moved beyond a time where there’s been a lack of sophistication about how to be in the relationship with Indigenous Australians.”
Crucially, says Sarra, “it would deliver to Australia the kind of justness to its national psyche that is much required”.
Moving beyond stereotypes into a more just relationship is a theme picked up by Tony McAvoy. He’d like to see the bulk of Australians enter into a different kind of relationship with Indigenous Australians, “one where Aboriginal people are celebrated and part of our community, [where]we celebrate Aboriginal identity more than just being pictures on a postcard or some other caricature”.
He’d like to see a future in which “mainstream Australia wants an Australia where Aboriginal people are, over time, the best educated people and the highest achievers rather than at the other end of the spectrum”.
The benefits for mainstream Australia would include not only a more just future, but also a more honest relationship with our history.
For all Australians, Tauto Sansbury says Treaty would mean “understanding really what colonisation is about by understanding the true relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and how Australia was not settled, how Australia was invaded”.
“That has never been told in the history books, it’s never been told in schools and many young Aboriginal kids don’t really know that… Australia’s got a black history, they need to talk about that black history.”
Marching Together Towards Treaty
So how can all of us help to accelerate this march towards Treaty?
Jeff McMullen says it’s about listening carefully to the unequivocal voices of Aboriginal people and getting involved at the grassroots.
“All Australians should be involved with the community Aboriginal organisations that express this daily sense of sovereignty and self-determination”. He is confident that “change will come with people power, with a swelling of society and that needs to involve all of us and it needs to involve every sector”.
Tony McAvoy is hopeful for a Treaty in coming years, because of the greater understanding that the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been treated in Australia.
“It’s something that as a nation people should be ashamed of and there is a growing sense that it’s something that can be done.”
Terry Mason thinks young Australians in particular are waking up to the shame of our relationship with Aboriginal people and craving change.
“This country is a shameful example of successive governments being advantaged based on dispossession and disadvantage. Any legitimate society would demand better of its representatives because it reflects on them, and I believe the young people have come to the stage where they’re embarrassed about what’s happening.”
Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman Nakkiah Lui ended her personal reflections on the 10-year-old girl who took her own life this week with these thoughts:
“I want non-Aboriginal people to know that the destruction of a people this country depends on surrounds all of you, every day, and it is closer than you think.
“Please think about that little girl today, and the family and life she has left behind. But do more than think, try and find a way to help the people whose backs your life is built on.”
We can go on ignoring the many ways our privilege is built on the loss experienced by Indigenous Australians.
Or we can stand on the shoulders of the giants of Aboriginal activism, past and present, and spread this resounding call for Treaty.
* To hear more from these fascinating, fierce advocates, if you’re in Sydney, come along to the public forum on Treaty this Monday at 6pm at Redfern Community Centre. Following on from their “Women Speak Out For Treaty” event last year, Stop the Intervention Collective have organised this event called “Time For Treaties: Men Speak Out For Treaty”. Featuring Yolngu Nations Assembly spokesperson Yingiya Mark Guyula, Chair of NTEU A&TSI Policy Committee Terry Mason, barrister Tony McAvoy, Aboriginal advocate Tauto Sansbury and Founding Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute Chris Sarra, and facilitated by journalist Jeff McMullen, it’s set to be a passionate and stimulating discussion. Click here for the Facebook event or here for further details. You can also see details of Yingiya’s national speaking tour here, and donate to his election campaign here.
Treaty push should replace Indigenous Recognise campaign, says Yolngu leader
Yingiya Mark Guyula wants constitutional recognition campaign resources to be redirected towards convincing Australians about the importance of treaties
Yingiya Mark Guyula of the Yolngu Nations Assembly is calling for the efforts being put into recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution to be redirected to treaties between Australian governments and Indigenous nations.
Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
Friday 11 March 2016 15.19 AEDT Last modified on Tuesday 22 March 2016 14.26 AEDT
Non-Indigenous Australians need to be convinced of the need for a treaty over a “weaker” push for constitutional recognition, a senior Yolngu man has said.
Indigenous Australians want treaty, not constitutional recognition, says elder
Yingiya Mark Guyula, a Liya-dhälinymirr Djambarrpuyngu man, has embarked on a national tour to as a member of the Yolngu Nations Assembly. He says Aboriginal people need a formal recognition of sovereignty to help them develop stronger communities.
The Yolngu Nations Assembly represents tribal groups that make up the Yolngu peoples in north-east Arnhem land and advocates a split system of government, balancing traditional Madayin law with Australian law and government. It’s a model Guyula says could be strengthened and expanded if the Australian government agreed to negotiate a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Securing a treaty is a long-running feature of the struggle for Indigenous rights in Australia but has not been given serious consideration by government since 1990, when then prime minister Bob Hawke abandoned his earlier promise to negotiate a treaty in favour of a 10-year process of reconciliation. That was a compromise struck with the Liberal party, who refused to support a treaty on the grounds it would “create hostility within the Australian community”.
In 2015 the federal government committed to hold a referendum to recognise Indigenous people in the preamble to the constitution and remove racist clauses from the founding document. Those who support the recognition campaign, like so-called “father of reconciliation” Pat Dodson, say it is the first step toward securing a treaty.
Guyula represents a growing movement that says the resources of the Recognise campaign should be devoted to securing a treaty first.
“My argument is for treaty,” Guyula told Guardian Australia. “Let us go. Let us go. Give us that space to go, think and develop a way that was there before.”
Guyula will run as an independent for the Gove peninsula seat of Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory general election in August on a platform of treaty and self-determination.
Advertisement“We want our own sovereignty recognised,” he said. “Recognise our power, recognise who we are are, recognise that we were here before any law that came and ruled all over us.
“I believe we can work together if we can sit down and negotiate things, but it hasn’t happened … It’s been going on for 228 years now, when are you going to listen and sit down with us?”
Guyula was expected to address about 20 people at a forum in Geelong on Friday and another 40 in Melbourne on Saturday, before heading to Sydney on Monday.
Also at the forum will be Taungerong man Adam Frogley, who was one of the community members representing Victoria’s Kulin nation at a roundtable in Melbourne last month that unanimously rejected the constitutional recognition process in favour of pursuing a treaty.
The Victorian government promised to meet with Aboriginal people and discuss the issue.
The first step, Frogley said, was working out exactly what was meant by a treaty, an answer he said would differ in different parts of Australia.
“I am a firm believe that rather than a single treaty negotiated by the Aboriginal people as a group, there’s going to need to be individual treaties for individual nation groups,” he told Guardian Australia.
“It would need to be very much local, it would very much deal with the diversity of these different groups.”
The result might be something that looked like the Yidindji nation in far-north Queensland, where former journalist Murrumu Walubara Yidindji has renounced Australian citizenship, encouraging 60 others to do the same, and has met with foreign dignitaries as the representative of an independent sovereign state. Or it might not – the point, Frogley said, was to let Indigenous peoples negotiate the terms for themselves.
There's another government in Australia and Murrumu is taking it to the worldYaara Bou Melhem
Read moreFrogley said the push toward treaty would require an “education process for all of Australia” to ensure that it succeeded where numerous previous attempts had failed.
“I feel that it’s not going to be an easy path to go down, we are going to have to bring everyone along with this,” he said. “This is quite hard and I think it’s going to be difficult, but I don’t think it’s any more difficult than the process that the Recognise people are trying to run at the moment.”
Photo: Independent candidate for Nhulunbuy Yingiya Mark Guyula is calling for a treaty.
Nhulunbuy independent candidate Yingiya Mark Guyula calls for treaty with Indigenous people
By Alyssa Betts
Wed 9 Mar 2016, 4:09 PM AEDT
It is time for Australia to forge a treaty with its Indigenous peoples, an independent candidate contesting the upcoming Northern Territory election has said.
Yingiya Mark Guyula will run in the NT seat of Nhulunbuy with the backing of the Yolngu Nations Assembly, a group of Arnhem Land Aboriginal leaders.
He said Australian Government ministers needed to hold the same diplomatic talks with Arnhem Land Aboriginal leaders as they would with a foreign country.
"Because most of the time it was the CEOs or representatives from the Northern Territory Government — or representatives from the Federal Government — that's been coming and sitting down with the highest rank of my elders, and that's not good enough," Yingiya said.
"[I'm] campaigning on a treaty which is equal opportunities in self-management, self-determination — power for the people.
"We have been disempowered by Stronger Futures. We have been disempowered by the Intervention."
The Yolngu Nations Assembly (YNA) has regional representatives from eight areas in Arnhem Land, and aims to uphold Madayin law, which they say is the traditional legal system of Yolngu people.
Nhulunbuy locals say treaty needed as sovereignty never ceded
The YNA maintains they have never ceded sovereignty and that their system of law is overseen through their own authorities and government.
"We want the Government to recognise our Madayin system of law, and that it may be run in partnership with the Westminster system of law," Yingiya said.
Yingiya said Aboriginal parliamentarians from major Northern Territory parties had not been able to bring about much-needed change for Indigenous people.
"The Aboriginal people ... who've run in the seats of Labor or the CLP [Country Liberals party] have failed simply because they've been under pressure, under a different system of law: the Westminster system of law."
Yingiya is now touring parts of Victoria and New South Wales to raise funds for his campaign.
Labor's grip on the seat of Nhulunbuy has loosened with the closing of the town's refinery and the recent NT Electoral Commission's boundary redistribution. But ABC election analyst Antony Green estimates sitting member Lynne Walker's old margin of 19 per cent would still be nearly 14 per cent, even with the changes.