Challenge of negotiation

Learning the hard way

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  • Published 20180807
  • ISBN: 9781925603316
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THIRTY YEARS AGO, at Barunga in the Northern Territory, Prime Minister Bob Hawke promised a treaty. I was there, as director of the Central Land Council. We sat in the dust and had long discussions about how a treaty might take shape, what consultations would need to take place between the states and territories, the parliament and the First Nations people. The intentions for treaty were reinforced though cultural activities. Dances spoke of the history of the lack of recognition for First Nations people, and the significance of the intentions behind a treaty was complemented by the ancient traditions of songs and stories.

Senior law men created the Barunga Statement, painting their titles to land on the bark, inscribing it with the words: ‘We, the Indigenous owners and occupiers of Australia, call on the Australian Government and people to recognise our rights.’

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