Treaty Advancement legislation enacted

The Advancing the Treaty Process Bill has passed the Victorian parliament on Thursday 21 June after a marathon debate in the upper house and gaining the final assent on 1 August 2018.

The new Act legislates the next part of the Treaty Process which is to form the Aboriginal Representative Body (ARB) after further community consultation has occurred. The ARB is charged with setting the framework for Treaty negotiations and is being developed by the Treaty Advancement Commission.  

Treaty flags flying high at the Victorian Naidoc March Pic by Alex Sheehy

Treaty flags flying high at the Victorian Naidoc March Pic by Alex Sheehy

Treaty Engagement

Last week in Frankston the Federation undertook a pilot Talking Treaty meeting with Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. The series of Talking Treaty engagement meetings will be held around the State between October 2018 and June 2019 and we’ll be posting details of upcoming meetings on our website. The purpose of the meetings is to engage, inform, empower and enable on-going discussion within Traditional Owners to inform the future direction for Treaty. The Federation is also undertaking research into Treaty matters that will help to inform future debate and development.

The second round of the Treaty Community Engagement Program grants is now open. Victorian Traditional Owner and Aboriginal organisations and individuals are eligible to apply for both smaller Treaty Circle grants (up to $10,000) and for on-going or in-depth engagement and research projects (up to $100,000).

Talking Treaty Frankston, 10th August 2018

Talking Treaty Frankston, 10th August 2018

Templates Review

The Federation has formed a ‘Template Review Committee’ to discuss changes to the standard template documents which make up a Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA). The committee comprises representatives of every Traditional Owner group currently engaged in negotiations under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, and is assisted by lawyers from First Nations Legal and Research.

The templates are important because they contain and regulate various native title rights, such as rights to be informed and negotiate agreements with respect to activities on Crown land (eg mining and exploration, construction and the development of major projects). They also deal with Traditional Owners’ rights to natural resources, including rights to take and use the resources, and to participate in their management through the development of policy.

The Template Review Committee is working to ensure these documents - and the settlement framework - are consistent with Traditional Owner aspirations, and are keeping pace with native title outcomes across the country. The committee has had several meetings with representatives of the State, with the aim that standard documentation will be resolved prior to the State election later this year.

The Federation tabled a Peter on the agreed next steps at a recent Aboriginal Executive Council and Secretaries Leadershiip Group meeting requesting Whole-of-Government oversight on the review.

Aboriginal access to water for Economic Development

The Federation with MLDRIN and DELWP have initiated work on the Roadmap for improving Aboriginal access to water for economic purposes, including social, cultural and environmental outcomes under the State’s Water for Victoria plan. A key role has been to facilitate the development of a wide range of projects with Traditional Owner groups that can inform the Roadmap and provide a cohesive view of available and accessible water in the State, and what opportunities exist to use, manage and develop the resources.

The first projects, including a number of pilots led by Traditional Owner Corporations and groups, are expected to roll out over the coming year, and updates on the progress of the Roadmap will be made periodically over the next two years.

Restoring Cultural Landscapes through drainage

Drainage schemes were largely put in place in the early 20th century to assist the expansion of agriculture, but over the years have fallen into disrepair.  A draft Victorian Rural Drainage Strategy has been developed including drawing on the Federation’s 2016 report, a key element of which was to promote practical opportunities for Traditional Owner groups to restore or re-establish waterways.

DELWP representatives met with the NRM Committee recently to outline the strategy and potential projects.  One of the first projects which has just commenced in partnership with Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation will look at options to modify the drainage systems to reinstate flow through culturally important areas in Budj Bim, continuing to build on the success of restoration works at Lake Condah. A final Victorian Rural Drainage Strategy is currently being developed, and DELWP welcomes the opportunity to meet with FVTOC’s NRM committee to discuss the final strategy and how it will encourage considering similar projects.

Victorian Cultural Fire Strategy

On 15 July, with support from the Federation in conjunction with DELWP, over 50 Traditional Owners from Victoria attended the Firesticks National Indigenous Fire Workshop in Nowra. This year’s forum was the largest in the event’s 10 year history with over 300 attendees from all over Australia coming together to collaborate, share and build knowledge around Traditional Owner led fire practices.

The Victorian Traditional Owner Fire Knowledge group hosted a session at the Nowra workshop to outline and test the Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Fire Strategy that the Federation has facilitated through engagement and input from groups and knowledge holders from across Victoria. The learnings from the Nowra event have contributed to and affirmed the approach being taken in Victoria in the development of a Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy, which is now drafted for consideration by Victorian Traditional Owner fire knowledge holders.

Opening Ceremony at the National Indigenous Fire Workshop, Bundanon, July 2018 Pic Courtesy of Richard Dinnen, NIFW

Opening Ceremony at the National Indigenous Fire Workshop, Bundanon, July 2018 Pic Courtesy of Richard Dinnen, NIFW

Traditional Owner Game Management Strategy

The Government’s Sustainable Hunting Action Plan includes a strategy to partner with the Federation to develop a Victorian Traditional Owner Game Management Strategy.

We have completed our engagement with Traditional Owner Elders and key knowledge holders around the State, which provided a wealth of information, underpinned by the contexts, knowledge and cultural values, from which to develop a strategy that contributes to the management of the resources. The Strategy has been drafted for finalisation in September.