Victorian Traditional Owners come together in historic Victorian first


The drive for sustainable systemic change for First Peoples is set to be amplified after Traditional Owners met this month, in a historic Victorian first.

Key Traditional Owner Corporation representatives gathered for a two-day agenda-setting forum which was held for all recognised Victorian Traditional Owner groups. It was the first time all recognised groups have been brought together to collectively discuss priorities in a quest to achieve better policy outcomes particularly on the path to self-determination and Treaty.

Legislative reform and other crucial reform around policy and partnership were all high on the agenda and identified as key areas for Traditional Owners at the forum which was hosted by the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings, who attended the two-day forum, said the gathering was significant in that groups were uniting as a collective to discuss a broad policy agenda.

“The coming together of the Victorian Government and Traditional Owners to discuss policy priorities that effect Traditional Owners, with Traditional Owners, could not be more important,” he said.

“This is an opportunity to set the agenda for the future and is crucial to advancing Aboriginal self-determination.”

Six of Victoria’s 11 Traditional Owner Corporations attended the working session, participating in an open dialogue, which focused on the areas of policy, partnership, communication and advocacy.

Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation CEO Roger Fenwick said the forum was an opportunity to focus on the collective outcomes.

“Traditional Owner corporations are all different and need to meet the expectations of their members and families,” he said.

“The opportunity to find common ground and come together to influence government policy is an important part of our collective work.”

Four key themes emerged as areas of focus for the Federation to prioritise as the peak body for Traditional Owners in Victoria.

Photo: Key Traditional Owner Corporation representatives with the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings.

Photo: Key Traditional Owner Corporation representatives with the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings.

The forum discussed the benefit of a coordinated, collaborative and collective voice in driving better policy outcomes for all Traditional Owners; the skills, personnel and resources Traditional Owners required to achieve long-term outcomes and improve capabilities; the role of improved information and data and knowledge sharing across Traditional Owner Corporations; and the ability to set a new paradigm and accountability for government engagement with Traditional Owners.

Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation CEO Rodney Carter said the forum was a historic meeting for Traditional Owners.

“The excellence in our advocacy is that we have a collective vision,” he said.

“The workshop allowed the leadership from the Traditional Owner Corporations across the state to come together in a structured manner to bring our individual needs to be formed now by a single voice of our many languages.”

Federation Chair Jason Mifsud said the Federation will continue its research, engagement and advocacy on Treaty, but that the forum provided greater clarity of Traditional Owner priorities.

“Our future is now; the direction and priorities are set and the Federation will continue to fiercely advocate and fight for the rights and interests of Traditional Owner Corporations and Traditional Owners,” he said.

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

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