Victorian Treaty Advancement commissioner Jill Gallagher. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

A TREATY in Victoria would show the Commonwealth government there is nothing scary about creating a formal agreement between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, according to the head of the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission.

Jill Gallagher AO spoke to a full room at the Capital Theatre this week.

The information session, which included Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, saw people cry at stories of hurt caused by racism.

“There is unfinished business in this country, but that history is not about making people today feel ashamed or feel guilty about what happened,” Ms Gallagher said.

“It is about recognising what happened and recognising that we have to do the right thing and there needs to be treaties with the first people of this country.”

The Victorian government recently passed the Treaty Advancement Bill which commits it to continuing to talk about creating an agreement.

Ms Gallagher’s work over the next year will include setting up an Aboriginal representative body that will create the framework for negotiating future treaties.

That work is challenging enough.

She will have to establish an Aboriginal electoral roll, map electoral boundaries and hold elections, all by next July.

All Aboriginal Victorians will be eligible to vote but only traditional elders will be able to stand.

The body will be made up of 30 members and they will also set up a treaty authority to act as an umpire, and a Self Determination Fund.

“I can assure people that private land is not on the table,” Ms Gallagher said.

“We as Aboriginal people, we can’t touch your homes, we can’t touch your farms or your private property, but treaty has to deal with land, has to deal with reparation.”

A treaty could make Aboriginal history and culture part of the school curriculum.

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