The Uniting Church has welcomed Victoria’s landmark step towards negotiating a treaty with the First Peoples and urged that the process continue.
In late June, Victoria’s state parliament passed the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018.
It is the first time an Australian parliament has approved a framework to negotiate a treaty or treaties with the First Peoples.
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Moderator Sharon Hollis said it was an important moment but there is much more to be done.
“The Uniting Church welcomes the passing of the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 as a significant step towards the recognising the sovereignty of the First Peoples of Victoria,” she said.
“We commend the work of many Aboriginal people and organisations and the Treaty Commissioner in working towards this day. We will continue to work and pray for justice for First Peoples.”
Australia is the only Commonwealth country not to have signed a treaty with its indigenous peoples.
This is despite a promise to do so by former prime minister Bob Hawke more than 30 years ago.
In his final national message as his three-year term winds up, UCA President Stuart McMillan said that recognition of sovereignty and Treaty for First Peoples was “unfinished business”.
“I continue to invite Church members to consider what it would mean for the practices of our Church to honour First Peoples as sovereign in this land and what it means to stand with them in their pursuit of just terms treaties,” he said.
“The conversation continues and the movement for Treaty is stirring again.”
NAIDOC week, which celebrates the history, culure and achievements of the First Peoples begins on 8 July.
The theme of this year’s event is “Because of her, we can” which celebrates the essential role that women play in First Peoples communities.
This theme aligns with a campaign being promoted by the Leprena centre, the Hobart base for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, to end the silence around domestic violence.
The Leprena centre will be having a NAIDOC week community lunch on Wednesday, 11 July.
This article first appeared in Crosslight.