Towards a local treaty

Declaration of Commitment and Intent

Melinda Serico explaining her artwork around the Declaration

On January 26, 2018, the Balaangala “Towards a Treaty” group presented their Declaration of Commitment and Intent. The declaration was supported and signed by over 100 people in attendance.

The declaration reads:

We, the undersigned –

Acknowledge that:

  • all Australians live on Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island land
  • land was taken without consent, payment or treaty
  • theft of land included massacres and the decimation of cultures and languages
  • First Nations people resisted colonisation as evidenced by the “frontier wars”
  • generations of First Nations people have continued to fight for land rights, justice, self-determination and a voice for their communities
  • colonisation has resulted in inter-generational trauma for many First Nations people, their families and communities
  • non-Aboriginal Australians have benefited and continue to benefit from colonization, especially through dispossession of land and stolen or unpaid wages
  • on-going racist government policies continue to have a detrimental impact on First Nations people

We affirm that:

  • non-Aboriginal Australians need to take personal responsibility for learning the truth of our shared history (beginning in their local community) and its continuing impact on First Nations people
  • addressing past and current injustices (political, economic, social) must include compensation (monetary and/or otherwise) and land rights for First Nations people
  • reconciliation must include privileging First Nation people’s voices and stories, listening to and hearing the truth with open hearts

We commit to:

  • learning more about our shared history and current issues that impact on First Nations people
  • engagement and action at our local community level
  • supporting a movement towards a national treaty

Ways you can commit to making change

Learn more
o Educate yourself about our shared history and current issues that impact
First Nations people in Australia, in Queensland.
o Find out about what happened locally: at first contact, the widespread
massacres that took place, the restriction act, the stolen wages, find first
hand experiences of the stolen generations…
o Make a list of questions you have about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
cultural groups. Find the answers to your questions without asking any
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people to help you.
o Be willing to be uncomfortable. Understand that our shared histories
present complexities and contradictions. Don’t try to reduce or simplify it.

Engage and take action
o Find out what’s happening at a local community level
o Diversify your circle of friends.
o Stereotypes become popular when we don’t get to know people as
individuals. It takes time to get to know people.
o Confront racism, ignorance and inappropriate behaviour / language when
you see, hear, read or experience it.

Support a movement
o Become involved in an organisation. Make it more than financial. Involve
your time, energy, participation and emotional connection.

Contribute to financial restoration


Watch Let’s Talk Sovereignty

A panel discussion with Mary Graham, Lila Watson, Bob Weatherall and Michael Mansell, facilitated by Tiga Bayles


2018: Balaangala members’ discussions around the possibility of a local treaty led to the “Towards a Treaty” group making a declaration of commitment and intent, which was shared on the 26th of January 2018.

2019: On the 26th of January 2019, the Towards a Treaty group launched a Pay The Rent scheme. The fund was officially launched by Aunty Flo Watson.

2020: Following further consultation with the decision making panel, the fund was renamed the Restoration Fund.

Balaangala was a finalist in the 2020 Qld Premier’s Reconciliation Awards in recognition of the work creating and facilitating the Restoration Fund.  

In the fund’s first year following its launch in 2019, $11,000 was received.  The decision making panel – Dr Jackie Huggins, Maurice Serico, Uncle Ross Williams and Aunty Flo Watson – chose four groups to receive money, including two Elders’ groups, a culturally-based domestic violence program and a group involved in teaching and sharing Culture and providing employment for its members.