Aboriginal affairs roundtable held in WA

Rebecca Gredley
Aboriginal affairs roundtable held in WA

State and territory Aboriginal affairs leaders say it is inevitable the federal government will need to have treaty negotiations with indigenous people.

Representatives from Western Australia, the ACT, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria met on Friday for the first roundtable meeting in seven years to discuss their progress on Aboriginal affairs.

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, who is indigenous, said each state faced similar issues including housing, treaties, Aboriginal representation and land tenure.

"It's an opportunity now for states and territories to have a much better understanding of what we're all doing, and co-operate a lot more to create more opportunities for Aboriginal people," he told reporters on Friday.

"We're seeing a lot more happening in the space of Native title, constitutional recognition and closing the gap."

Mr Wyatt met with SA Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Kyam Maher, ACT MLA Rachel Stephen-Smith, NT MLA Chansey Paech and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens.

Roundtable meetings are expected to continue once or twice a year, with discussions towards the end of 2017 to focus on how states and territories will use land vested in Aboriginal communities to better create economic development.

Mr Wyatt said treaty conversations were occurring with Nyoongar people from WA's South West region, and acknowledged this was happening across Australia.

"What Uluru has shown is that Aboriginal Australia is very keen to have this conversation about treaties elevated," he said.

"It has created a new pressure on the commonwealth government to engage in an area that perhaps, may be new to them."

Mr Maher said a state treaty could be announced by the end of the year and that bilateral agreement would have a federal impact.

"When states and territories talk with one voice it helps solve problems," he said.