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Plea over Indigenous truth, treaty after voice defeat

Dominic Giannini -

A path towards Indigenous truth and treaty has been paved by Australia's "father of reconciliation" following the failed voice referendum.

Labor senator Pat Dodson is one of the nation's most recognisable Indigenous leaders and has been a lifelong champion for First Nations rights.

Hours after announcing his plans to retire on Tuesday, a parliamentary committee chaired by Senator Dodson published a significant report.

It contained six recommendations including an independent process to handle truth telling and treaty negotiations.

The committee called on Australia to endorse and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Lidia Thorpe wants a UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People to be legislated. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

It also suggested improving education around Australia's history.

Senator Dodson said at the heart of the report was a call to engage with the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Following the report's release, Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe called for the UN declaration to be legislated in Australia.

The Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman said there was no pathway to justice without its implementation.

"It sets the minimum standard of human rights for our people," she said.

"Without respecting the bare minimum of our rights, the colonial state will continue to pursue its own dominance, resulting in the displacement, dispossession and death of our people."

The Victorian senator has introduced a private member's bill to legislate the declaration, which will be debated in the Senate next week.

"I urge the government to honour its commitment to truth and treaty and progress them in this term of government - our people have waited long enough," she said.

Senator Dodson said it was crucial the government continued to pursue Indigenous reconciliation after the failed referendum.

The West Australian senator and Yawuru man said the task of reconciliation was not just an Indigenous issue, but a national one.

"The lesson we learnt out of (the referendum) is the non-Indigenous people need to come on board with us," he said.

"You can't have a treaty with yourself, you can't have truth telling on your own ... it's going to involve all of us."

Closing the disadvantage gap and economically empowering First Nations people also needed to remain on the agenda, he said.

Senator Dodson will leave parliament on January 26, explaining cancer treatment had taken a significant toll on his physical health.

Before entering parliament, he held several high profile roles and helped lead the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

While in office, he served as the Albanese government's special envoy for reconciliation.

Dominic Giannini - AAP

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