Aboriginal democracy at work
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council will host a three-day forum in Dubbo NSW, to discuss the notion of a treaty. They plan to access the views of Indigenous people from hundreds of communities across the State. "It is a mammoth task and we are planning 116 community and regional meetings over the next six to twelve months in a bid to reach all of those people. It's vital that we do this work, as it is crucial the information is delivered accurately, thoroughly and in a culturally appropriate manner", said ATSIC Commissioner Steve Gordon. The two organisations joined forces to ensure every Indigenous community in NSW had an opportunity to learn about the issues, facts and purpose of a treaty or treaties. "Once communities and people have had this opportunity they will then be better placed to make an educated decision as to whether they want a treaty or not", said Land Council chairman Rod Towney. "It makes sense that we work together to reach all Indigenous people in the State", he said. There will be a "train the trainer" style forum with those who will be co- ordinating the meetings across NSW. Commissioner Gordon is responsible for ATSIC's treaty portfolio and has stressed his organisation's aim is to promote and encourage discussion and debate within the Indigenous population first. "When and if the Indigenous people of this State decide that they wish to go further then we'll seek a dialogue with the broader community", he said. "This decision is for Indigenous people to make, and we will follow their lead", chairman Towney concluded.