5 Policy Minutes A short round-up of current policy issues which could have implications or opportunities for Victorian Traditional Owners, compiled by the Secretariat of the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations. Treaty Victoria is one step closer to becoming the first Australian state to sign a Treaty after the first ever piece of treaty legislation in Australia had its second reading in Parliament today. The Bill is the culmination of the work of more than 7,000 Aboriginal community members who have been engaged to work with government to progress Treaty over the past two years, a significant step that follows the recent appointment of Jill Gallagher as the Treaty Advancement Commissioner. The Community Assembly’s Final Statement has also been published and presented to the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group. The group officially handed over its Final Report on the Design of the Aboriginal Representative Body to the Treaty Advancement Commissioner earlier this month. During this period, the Federation has continued to endorse the need for ongoing dialogue with Traditional Owners, Aboriginal Victorians and the broader community and will continue to support the process moving forward. Reading Country The Natural Resource Management (NRM) Committee of the Federation recently facilitated a twoday event hosted on Eastern Maar Country (Cape Otway) and Dja Dja Wurrung Country (Bendigo) exploring options for a monitoring, evaluation and learning systems that enable Traditional Owners to collect data that is culturally meaningful, environmentally appropriate and fit for purpose. Traditional Owners from across the state were joined by Oliver Costello and Emilie Ens, who helped lay the foundations for developing a Victorian Reading Country (bio-cultural monitoring) program. Cultural Burning Strategy The Victorian Government (DELWP) is resourcing Traditional Owners, in partnership with Parks Victoria and the Country Fire Authority, to develop a Cultural Burning Strategy that will once again enable Traditional Owners to apply Right Fire practices on Country. The Federation’s NRM Committee is supporting a Traditional Owner Knowledge Group to inform and co-design the strategy through a series of on-Country events for sharing knowledge and practice across all Country types. The first event for 2018 was held on the 8th and 9th of March on Eastern Maar Country at Cape Otway. Traditional Owners from all over the State led discussions to plan events, allocate resources and for the development and future management of Traditional Owner fire knowledge and practice. A strong partnership is being developed with the national Firesticks Initiative. Marine and Coastal The State has offered $300,000 to interested Coastal TO Groups to design and implement projects that strengthen their rights and interests under the new Marine and Coastal Act. The Federation hosted a co-design workshop in February and are now embarking on on-Country co-design events that will provide greater authority to Country Plans and to the TO Groups with their regional partners in coastal and marine management. The Federation will also support groups to develop a proposal for additional ongoing funding from the State. Stakeholder Collaboration The Federation has taken a lead role in bringing together key stakeholders from both government and non-government organisations to identify prospective improvements to the current systems around formal recognition for Traditional Owners. Following a successful workshop in late February, the Federation will now engage with Traditional Owners to discuss potential improvements that can be implemented to enhance formal recognition structures and strengthen the support and services across the ‘system’. Charitable Structures: ACNC review The National Native Title Council (NNTC) and the Federation have made submissions to the Review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), focusing on the complex structural arrangements used by Traditional Owner Corporations to overcome the restrictions of charities. Building on these themes, the Chair of the NNTC Jamie Lowe and the CEO of the Federation Marcus Stewart spoke at an NNTC seminar last week, where there was support for enhancing structures that will maintain tax advantages, and increase the economic opportunities and benefits for Traditional Owners without requiring charitable structures. Local Government Changes The Local Government Bill was recently released as a draft for consultation. The main points of the Federation’s submission were:  Incorporate and have regard to the Traditional Owners interests in long term and strategic vision and planning  Maintain and improve opportunities for Traditional Owners to contribute to local government decision-making processes  Take into account the relationship of Traditional Owners and their culture and traditions with their ancestral land, water, sites, valued flora and fauna, and other resources, for significant decisions in relation to land or a body of water. We will continue to advocate for key changes to the legislation and we will also seek to inform and develop the regulations under the new legislation.

For further comment or information please contact Alexandra Sheehy on 0420 314 221.

Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations PO Box 431, North Melbourne VIC 3051

t: (03) 9321 5300 | Toll Free: 1800 791 779 | f: (03) 9326 4075

Website: www.fvtoc.com.au

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we work on as the First People of this country.