Tuylupa Tunaprito light the fire of understanding
In July 2022, the Palawa Community elected a delegation to represent them in negotiating a pathway to Treaty and Truth Telling with the Tasmanian State Government.
The delegates on tuylupa tunapri are:
- Rodney Gibbins, Chair
- Greg Brown
- Denise Gardner
- Jamie Graham-Blair
- Krystelle Jordan
- Clyde Mansell
- Michael Mansell
- Nathan Maynard
- Nunami Sculthorpe-Green
At the meeting, the Palawa community echoed concerns that their voices and perspectives were not being heard and not being sought out. The community felt it was being ignored with the result that, once again, Palawa were being removed from a political process that offers people power over their own lives and pathways to justice.
To overcome this, at that meeting the community voted unanimously to encourage Premier Rockliff to take over the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio and chose several delegates from across Lutruwita to form a group to represent them and to negotiate a plan for treaty and truth-telling in Lutruwita.
The elected delegates adopted the Palawa name tuylupa tunapri – ‘to light the fire of understanding’. It is important to note that tuylupa tunapri are community representatives of the whole Palawa community. They represent the genuine voice of the community and are not constrained or directed by the views or interests of individual organisations.
The tuylupa tunapri delegates are keen to work with the government and other groups to legislate for a treaty and to establish a truth-telling commission, which tells the truth of our history, people, culture, and country.
It is certainly the view of the Palawa community that a treaty informed by community input and a truth-telling process will help identify and eliminate the barriers that have prevented Palawa from achieving social, economic, and cultural equity giving them more power and control over their own Country and their own destiny.
It is an important to point out that the Community elected delegation is not the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. The Centre provides some secretariat support for them and has helped them facilitate their delegation and community meetings. All work is done on a volunteer basis by the delegation.
The symbol of a treaty has value, but the content of the treaty must be carefully crafted to build justice and equity. To have real and enduring impact, this treaty would include confirming and acting on those statements in the preamble of the Constitution that acknowledges the Palawa people as Tasmania’s first people and the traditional and original owners of Tasmanian lands and waters. Including recognition and acceptance of the enduring spiritual, social, cultural, and economic importance of traditional lands and waters to Palawa people.
Further areas that should be discussed for a treaty would include sovereignty, power sharing, ownership of Aboriginal heritage and culture, meaningful land returns, and reparation.
Sovereignty is the foundation stone for the implementation of Treaty and that sovereignty would be expressed through sharing land, power, and wealth in Tasmania. It would also confirm the sovereignty of Palawa as a people resulting in empowerment and self-determination for the Palawa community.
The treaty would of course support meaningful land returns. This could include all crown Lands being returned under Aboriginal title. It may also include land brought on the open market for cultural protection or economic development. There would also need to be agreed financial means to protect, repair and develop returned land.
Any treaty would include Palawa ownership of Aboriginal Heritage and Culture in this state. This would incorporate cultural authority over all returned lands, including over national parks and other public lands not yet returned. This would also include the right to undertake cultural practices such as fishing, hunting and other social practices on lands and waters in this state.
Reparations would include a guaranteed permanent financial resource, as a starting point, let’s say 3 per cent of GDP. This would partly compensate for loss of land and destruction of a vibrant society.
Sharing of power should also be up for discussion. One suggestion is to have several designated Aboriginal parliamentary seats at the commonwealth and State governments level.
Certainly, a treaty between the state of Tasmania and the Palawa is supported by Palawa people, and the broader Tasmanian community. We would expect that the content of a treaty would dignify, honour, and do justice to the Palawa.
The process for a treaty should also be collaborative and respectful. State-wide engagement with the Palawa community is vital – and should be fully resourced to be undertaken by tuylupa tunapri the Palawa community representatives.
Learn more about the background to Treaty and Truth Telling in Lutruwita.
Draft Lutruwita Treaty Bill 2023
To support the development of a treaty tuylupa tunapri has developed a draft Lutruwita Treaty Bill 2023, outlined below.
What the Bill does?
- The Lutruwita Treaty Bill will develop a partnership between the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community and the State of Tasmania to develop a Treaty.
- The Bill will become law, and this will officially enable a Treaty Commission to be set up.
- The Treaty Commission, which Aboriginal people will be elected to, will consult with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, general public and key stakeholders to develop a Draft Treaty.
- The draft Bill also includes the key points that should be included in a Treaty, which were developed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community at community meetings.
What will the Commission look like?
- The Bill recommends that three Aboriginal people be elected to the Commission for three years. These people must have strong connections with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, and the skills to carry out the research and consultations needed.
- The three positions include a full-time Commissioner, with two assistant Commissioners.
- All costs, including salaries and expenses, would be paid for by the State Government.
What would the Commissioners do?
The main function of the Commission would be to:
- Develop a list of issues and propose solutions through community consultation.
- Explain what the terms of a Treaty would be, such as land return, financial compensation and self-determination.
- Produce a Treaty Bill to parliament, including a final report to the Premier of Tasmania by 30 June 2024.
The Commissioners would also take charge of a Truth-Telling process but that would need to be developed in further discussions with the Government.
What could be in a draft Treaty?
Following the Community meetings held over the past two years, the following points have been agreed as the main elements that should be in a Treaty.
- Seas and Waters
- Aboriginal culture and language
- Aboriginal identity
- Guaranteed revenue.
While truth-telling and treaty are linked, the commissions for each should be totally separate.
You can download and view the full draft via the below link.
The need for truth-telling has been a consistent and strongly expressed view of the Palawa community in Tasmania. It will provide a better understanding of the injustice and intergenerational trauma suffered by the Palawa. This is not the ‘black armband of history’. It is truth we wish to speak and that all Tasmanians must hear. As a society we must demonstrate the courage to speak and the humility to listen.
The truth-telling commission, appropriately led, structured, and resourced – will create a permanent and official historical record of the past. It will clarify and amend the current historical record, firmly rejecting the myth that with the death of Truganini on 8 May 1876, that 65,000-plus years of Palawa society and culture was removed from the face of the earth.
It will shine a light on the genocide and rape of our people, but also on the extraordinary acts of Palawa resistance, resilience, and survival.
It will reveal the true actions of successive Tasmanian governments and the complicity, silence, or ignorance of the broader community. As a result, it will help form our collective story from invasion/colonisation and dispossession to, a future that is characterised by mutual understanding and healing.
In the context of this truth, the commission should be empowered to make recommendations on redress and reforms between Palawa, government and the broader Tasmanian community. It should make recommendations for healing, including legislative, education, and systemic reform, and on other specific matters that may be included in treaty negotiations. Importantly, the story laid bare by the commission should compel the state of Tasmania to offer its deepest apologies to the Palawa for past and ongoing injustices, abuse, and discrimination.
However, the success of the commission will depend on how it is structured, resourced, and empowered. The commission should have the leadership of Palawa people who have the respect and recognition of our community. It should be resourced to engage with the community fully, provide a safe place for those speaking out, providing appropriate support for those experiencing trauma, and acquiring the expertise it needs. It must be able to compel government bodies and officials including politicians to give evidence – and to provide documentation – on the 200-plus years of oppression of the Palawa in Tasmania.