The Tasmanian Government has held a landmark joint meeting with representatives from the Aboriginal community to discuss a proposed pathway to truth-telling and Treaty.
Representatives of Tasmania’s registered Aboriginal community organisations were invited to meet with Indigenous Affairs Minister Roger Jaensch and Premier Jeremy Rockliff in Launceston last week, however there was one notable absentee.
Tasmania’s oldest and largest Aboriginal corporation, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, boycotted the meeting, publicly disagreeing with the government’s proposed process.
TAC campaign manager Nala Mansell told ABC radio’s Mel Bush that Mr Jaench’s plans would delay the state’s path to truth-telling and treaty, whilst also being an improper use of taxpayer money.
“(The government) will then form their own advisory body who will advise another state government organisation and further delay the process,” she said.
“This process has been flawed from the start.”
“It’s going to be a waste of time and money for Minister Jaensch to organise and select his own organisations and choose advisors.”
Ms Mansell said the TAC had proposed an alternative to the government’s process and that her organisation would hold a meeting to vote in a delegation of Aborignal people to work with the premier to negotiate a Treaty.
After a week of calling for nominations the subsequent meeting and election of an 11-person TAC-endorsed delegation coincided with Friday’s government meeting.
Mr Jaensch said the nature of Friday’s meeting with representatives of the Aboriginal community was productive.
“Premier Rockliff and I listened to the views of Aboriginal representatives from across the state at a historic gathering in Launceston on Friday,” he said.
“This is the first time a Tasmanian State Government has sat down with Aboriginal people to discuss how, not if, to progress truth-telling and treaty in Tasmania, and we are very grateful to all those who attended.
“All Tasmanian Aboriginal organisations will now be invited to consult their communities and provide feedback on the membership and functions of an Aboriginal advisory body to co-design the next steps on this journey.”
Mr Jaensch said submissions from Aboriginal organisations which did not attend the meeting would be accepted.
Goodwood’s Karadi Aborignal Corporation chief executive Rachel Dunn, who is a TAC member, said it appeared TAC did not want to participate in negotiations when other Aboriginal corporations were present.
“I went to a community meeting a couple of months ago where it was discussed about whether the TAC should sit at the table or not,” she said.
“The consensus at that meeting was there was no real decision made and that maybe we meet again, but we didn’t.
“My feedback at that meeting was, shouldn’t we actually see what it looks like before we say no?
“Then a few days before the government’s meeting in Launceston, the TAC put out a flyer to say that they were having their own meeting.”
At Friday’s government meeting Aboriginal corporations agreed on a four week window to seek consultation from their respective communities.
They will then report back to Minister Jaensch, nominating their preferred Aboriginal community representatives and to provide suggestions on how the advisory body might look.
Ms Mansell did not respond to requests for comment.