5 POLICY MINUTES MAY 2019
5 Policy Minutes
A short round-up of current policy issues which could have implications or opportunities for Victorian Traditional Owners.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy has officially been launched at a ceremony at Nioka Bush Camp last Friday attended by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio. The Strategy provides a set of principles and strategic priorities to facilitate greater self-determination for Traditional Owners and provides a policy and practice framework for effective Traditional Owner-led cultural fire management in Victoria.
The Strategy will help provide a policy directive and framework across Victoria’s fire agencies to support Traditional Owners to reintroduce cultural fire for the range of cultural values entailed by caring for Country.
Implementation of the Strategy and transition towards contemporary fire management that is more culturally appropriate and Traditional Owner led will continue to require meaningful agency support and building strong relationships across the state.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Knowledge Holder Group has decided to continue its work as an ongoing body, in order to lead implementation of the Strategy and to maintain, protect and embed Traditional Owner interests in knowledge and practice.
Sea Country Management
Significant progress is being made by Traditional Owners in implementation of the Marine and Coastal Act and the development of marine and coastal policy. This is being realised through robust relationships with the Department (DELWP), Victorian Environment Assessment Council and the Marine and Coastal Council.
A knowledge group and co-governance group have been formed to guide both the further development of practice for Sea Country management and the successful implementation of a program of work to realise Traditional Owner aspirations for Sea Country. This includes two pilot Regional and Strategic Partnerships on the coast, being led by the Traditional Owner Corporations for that Country (Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation and Gunai Kurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation).
The Federation recently hosted a two-day collaborative workshop to hear from and work with Traditional Owner Corporations from across Victoria to set the key priorities for the next 2-4 years to advance the collective rights, interests and aspirations of all Traditional Owner Corporations.
Six of Victoria’s 11 Traditional Owner Corporations were able to attend the working session, participating in a constructive and open dialogue, with a shared learning approach and a commitment to the benefits and values of a collaborative and collective voice.
The session focused on the areas of policy, partnership, communication and advocacy. From this, four themes emerged as areas of focus for the Federation. The group discussed the benefit of a coordinated and collective voice in driving better broad 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. The Federation is now working harder than ever to implement the ideas and actions agreed to at the forum.
A number of treaty research papers are being developed by the Federation in collaboration with First Nations Legal and Research Services. The topics for these papers are:
Paper 1: Understanding the landscape: the foundations and scope of a Victorian treaty
Paper 2: Sovereignty in Victorian context
Paper 3: Aboriginal control of Aboriginal Affairs: an Aboriginal parliament and public service
Paper 4: Enshrining Aboriginal Rights
Paper 5: A framework for Traditional Owner treaties: lessons from the Settlement Act
Paper 6: A comprehensive treaty model for Victoria
These papers are designed to support Traditional Owner communities and their representatives. We expect the first round of papers to be made publicly available in the coming weeks.
The research will be prepared as a suite of documents that can inform representatives on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria as to the elements of a potential treaty model and how a Victorian treaty could be negotiated. This project has garnered significant support from outside the organisation and the Federation are grateful to have received offers of assistance from many academics and Aboriginal Victorians.
As our treaty engagement and research inform the treaty debate, the Federation has been successful in lobbying for consideration of Traditional Owner rights and interests. We have ensured that there will be reserved seats for Traditional Owner groups on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Aboriginal representative body that will develop with government the ground rules for treaty-making). We have also secured voting rights for Victorian Traditional Owners living outside of the State’s borders.
The Federation will continue to advocate for Traditional Owners to be at the forefront of treaty. We have provided the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission with further recommendations on how the body and treaty process in general can be strengthened: https://www.fvtoc.com.au/submissions. In July, all Aboriginal Victorians will go to the polls to elect the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
Many Traditional Owner communities around the state have been holding workshops to prepare for Treaty. The Federation has continued to support this process and their voice by engaging with Traditional Owner groups across Victoria to facilitate discussions about Treaty for Victoria.
Recent meetings in Mildura, Berri, Seymour, Alexandra, Cape Conran, Frankston and Melbourne have sought to engage, inform and empower Victorian Traditional Owners in and through the Treaty process. The Federation’s work in all of these areas is focused on strengthening the voice and capacity of Traditional Owner groups to progress Treaty readiness. The meetings have also provided a strong platform for Traditional Owner voices to stay front and center in the development of Treaty policy.
The State has a number of streams of work associated with modernising the forest management system. This creates opportunities to reform planning and management arrangements for public forests in Victoria including National Parks.
The Federation is currently represented on the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) reference group to negotiate the new RFAs with the Commonwealth. The Federation is also seeking to ensure that Traditional Owner rights and interests (including under joint management) are strengthened to better reflect knowledge and practice within forestry management and policy settings.
For further 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.