This website contains images of people who have passed away.

Traditional Owner formal recognition in Victoria

In Victoria, there are 3 different processes through which Aboriginal people can seek the formal recognition of the State as Traditional Owners of their ancestral Country.

Traditional Owners can pursue formal recognition through any or all these 3 processes:

Table 1: Formal recognition processes in Victoria

Registered Aboriginal Party
Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic)

Title Determination
Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

Recognition & Settlement Agreement
Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic)

Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are responsible for managing Aboriginal cultural heritage within their appointed areas.

RAPs are appointed by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, a statutory body made up of Victorian Traditional Owners, established under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

Traditional Owners apply to become a RAP by submitting an application form and supporting materials to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.

Native Title is a property right held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples under traditional laws and customs, which pre-dates colonisation and is recognised by Australian law.

Native title is determined by the Federal Court of Australia, or on appeal, by the High Court.

Traditional Owners seek recognition of native title rights by making a native title application to the Federal Court.

The Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 provides an alternative framework for the recognition of Traditional Owner rights, financial and land management packages and settlement of native title claims in Victoria.

A Recognition and Settlement Agreement is negotiated by Traditional Owners with the Victorian Government.

11 Traditional Owner groups are formally recognised in Victoria. Collectively, these formally recognised groups have a legal interest in 66% of land and waters throughout Victoria (identified in red in Map 1, page 11 of this report).