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Outcomes of formal recognition

Formally recognised groups have rights and responsibilities as recognised Traditional Owners of Country. Below are specific outcomes that may arise from each of the three formal recognition processes.

Registered Aboriginal Party – Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

Registered Aboriginal Parties have cultural heritage responsibilities under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. These include the evaluation of cultural heritage management plans and decisions about cultural heritage permit applications.

RAPs also: provide advice to government and to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council about Aboriginal places and objects; negotiate the return of Aboriginal cultural heritage and Ancestral Remains; participate in cultural heritage agreements, protection declarations and intangible heritage processes; consult with sponsors and heritage advisors; undertake cultural heritage assessments, and engage in compliance and enforcement activities.

On appointment, RAPs receive an establishment grant and the right to collect fees for cultural heritage management activities. RAPs also receive annual operational funding for an Executive Officer, Cultural Heritage Officer and Administration Officer.

RAPs are eligible for funding for an Aboriginal Heritage Officer position to monitor compliance and enforce the Act.

Native Title Determination – Native Title Act 1993

A positive native title determination involves recognition by the Federal or High Court that a groups’ rights continue from before European colonisation to the present day.

It also lists the native title rights determined; for example, to camp, hunt, fish, gather food, and teach law and custom on Country.

Native title holders and registered native title claimants have rights under the Future Acts regime (such as the right to comment on or negotiate agreements) in relation to activities on Country that affect native title rights and interests.

The Native Title Act 1993 also allows for claims for compensation from the Commonwealth or State governments, for acts that have ‘extinguished’ or ‘impaired’ native title rights and interests.

Native title Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) have a statutory role in making native title decisions and consulting with native title holders. PBCs may be eligible for Commonwealth funding for capacity building.

Recognition and Settlement Agreement – Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010

The Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 provides a framework for the State and a Traditional Owner group to agree to a comprehensive settlement package. This can include:

  • A Recognition and Settlement Agreement recognising the named Traditional Owner group and their traditional rights over Country
  • A joint Recognition Statement that acknowledges the depth of the Traditional Owner group’s relationships to Country and their survival, as well as the disruptions and harms of European colonisation, and that also commits the State and the group to a mutual partnership going forward
  • A binding Indigenous Land Use Agreement that ‘settles’ all native title claims and opts into the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. A Settlement Agreement does not extinguish native title rights and interests but involves an agreement to exercise similar rights and interests under this agreement, and not under the native title regime
  • A Land Agreement providing land transfers and grants of Aboriginal title
  • A Land Use Activity Agreement providing rights for Traditional Owner groups to be consulted on, compensated for and to consent to certain activities on public land within their Country.
  • A Natural Resource Agreement providing rights to use certain natural resources, including for commercial purposes, and participate in natural resource management
  • A Funding Agreement, providing payments into the Victorian Traditional Owners Trust and/or payments to the Traditional Owner Group Entity
  • A Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement, regarding joint management of parks and reserves granted as Aboriginal title
  • Compensation that may be owed by the State for extinguishment or impairment of native title rights and interests.