The Act was passed in 1991, facilitating the transfer of three cemeteries at the former missions at Coranderrk, Ebenezer and Ramahyuck to Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation (Wurundjeri), Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative (Goolum Goolum) and Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative (GEGAC), respectively.
Wurundjeri are the Traditional Owners of the land encompassing Coranderrk Mission. The Review also engaged Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) as the Traditional Owner Group Entity which represents the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Peoples of the Wotjobaluk Nations (WJJWJ Peoples) who are the Traditional Owners of the land encompassing Ebenezer Mission. Further, the Review engaged Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) as the Traditional Owner Group Entity which represents the Gunaikurnai Peoples as the Traditional Owners of the land encompassing Ramahyuck Mission. The Traditional Owners and titleholders were considered the key stakeholders under this review.
The three cemeteries have deep cultural connections and significance for each community. The provisions within the Act in relation to the transfer and use of land do not reflect current government policies, which seek to promote Aboriginal self-determination and empower First Peoples to freely exercise their cultural, land and property rights.
The Act places two specific limitations on the rights of titleholders. First, titleholders are prohibited from selling or transferring their respective interests in the land (Transfer Restriction). Secondly, the lands must be used for Aboriginal cultural and burial purposes (Use Restriction). These limitations run counter to the principles of Aboriginal self-determination in that they limit the opportunities of titleholders to freely use and deal with their land as they see fit.
The Use Restriction is set out in the Certificate of Title itself, as well as required by the Act (section 6(5)). By contrast, the other restriction relating to transfer of land (section 7) is only contained in the Act. It is not mentioned on the title.