Katherine-born Yawuru man and former Australian of the Year Mick Dodson has been appointed the Northern Territory’s first-ever Treaty Commissioner.
The appointment follows the signing of the historic Barunga Agreement, between the government and the NT’s four land councils in June 2018, which paved the way for consultations to begin on a treaty with Aboriginal people.
“Anyone who has listened to me talk publicly knows that I am concerned with what I call ‘the unfinished business’,” Mr Dodson said.
“A treaty is a good place to start with addressing this unfinished business.”
Professor Dodson will take up his new role in March while the government has also called for applications for a part-time female deputy commissioner.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said his government would deliver a treat with Aboriginal people.
“Professor Dodson is one of Australia’s most highly regarded advocates and his contribution to this process will be invaluable,” Mr Gunner said.
“Along with local decision-making agreements, nine of which have now been signed across the territory, a treaty is an important part of the journey towards empowerment for Aboriginal people.”
Prof Dodson said Australia must “as a nation come face to face with our dark and traumatic history”.
“We must confront the impact of colonisation and begin the process of acknowledgement, recognition and healing,” he said.
“I was born in the NT and lived and worked here for over half my life so I feel well equipped for this role.
“I know it’s a tough challenge, however I am looking forward to talking to Northern Territorians and sharing their views on where we go to from here.”