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Culture and Country

The richness and diversity of Aboriginal history and culture in Victoria and the resilience and strength of Aboriginal communities and peoples, is something for all Victorians to celebrate.

Our shared commitment

The promotion of the rights and responsibilities under section 19(2) of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

Victorian Aboriginal communities and peoples are culturally diverse, with rich and varied languages, traditions, and histories. Aboriginal Victorians hold distinct cultural rights, including the right to maintain their spiritual, material, and economic relationship with their traditional lands and waters and continue to strengthen and grow with the resurgence of language, lore, and cultural knowledge.

The richness and diversity of Aboriginal history and culture in Victoria, and the resilience and strength of past and present Aboriginal communities and peoples is something for all Victorians to acknowledge and celebrate.

Goal 18: Aboriginal land, water and cultural rights are realised


Measures under Goal 18 have continued to improve.

The Victorian Government acknowledges that water rights were granted to European settlers to the exclusion of Aboriginal people, and the State made decisions without regard to Aboriginal people or the deep significance of water to them. As settlers moved across Victoria, they diverted, dammed and drained landscapes of water to suit and supply their specific needs. Aboriginal people were also not considered in land legislation or policy until very recently.

Recent advancement of the State’s treaty process and the uptake and promotion of initiatives are seeing Aboriginal land, water and cultural rights being increasingly realised.

Data note

Data for Measure 18.1.4 Number of Whole of Country Plans published is sourced from the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owners Corporations (FVTOC).

FVTOC had not provided data for this measure at the time of reporting.

Goal 18 directly aligns with the following Closing the Gap Outcomes and Targets

Outcome 15: People maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters.

  • Target 15a: By 2030, a 15% increase in Australia’s land mass subject to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests.
  • Target 15b: By 2030, a 15% increase in areas covered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s legal rights or interests in the sea.

Closing the Gap – How Victoria is tracking nationally

Nationally, based on progress from the baseline, the land mass target shows good improvement and is on track to be met, while the sea country target shows improvement but is not on track to be met. In Victoria, there is no change since the baseline year.

18.1 Increase the recognition and enjoyment of Aboriginal land, water and cultural heritage rights

Measure 18.1.1 Area of Crown land with native title determinations and/or Recognition and Settlement Agreements

In 2020–21, native title is recognised across 14,899 square kilometres of land. 40,132 square kilometres of land is recognised under Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 agreements.

Please note: Figures from previous reporting were amended to correct a miscalculation from 2010–11 and to account for the deregistration of the Taungurung settlement’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement in 2021.

Measure 18.1.2 Work of the State in advancing the treaty process

Victoria’s nation-leading treaty process is continuing to progress and achieve significant milestones. On 6 June 2022 the Treaty Authority Agreement was executed between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples' Assembly, establishing the Treaty Authority. The Minister for Treaty and First Peoples introduced the Treaty Authority and Other Treaty Elements Bill 2022 to parliament on 7 June 2022, which recognises the establishment of the Treaty Authority and facilitates its operations by giving legal force to its activities. To date, the Victorian Government and the First Peoples' Assembly have also agreed treaty conduct protocols and established a dispute resolution process. Work is continuing between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples' Assembly to finalise the remaining elements required to negotiate treaty, including a self-determination fund and treaty negotiation framework.

The treaty process will also be informed by the ongoing work of the Yoorrook Justice Commission that is detailed in the Priority Reform Three: Transforming Government Organisations section of this Report.

Measure 18.1.3 Number of Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) that have submitted a notice of intention to enter into an Aboriginal cultural heritage land management agreement

One avenue for recognising Aboriginal land, water and cultural heritage rights is through the establishment of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Land Management Agreements (ACHLMAs). ACHLMAs are designed to facilitate a proactive, holistic approach to managing and protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and landscape.

In 2020–21, three RAPs entered into an ACHLMA and 5 RAPs submitted an intention to enter an ACHLMA. A further notice of intention was lodged in March 2022, bringing the total to 6.

Partnering with Registered Aboriginal Parties

In 2020/21, the Department of Transport (DoT) extended invitations to three Registered Aboriginal Parties to co-design a partnership agreement, in respect of their roles as statutory and cultural authorities. In accepting these invitations, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung, Yorta Yorta and Taungurung were:

  • resourced to draft an agreement befitting the needs of their organisation, including internal consultation
  • provided information from the transport portfolio, including integrated maps capturing transport assets, projects and services, to enable meaningful decision-making to occur on the breadth of transport activity occurring on their traditional lands.

Partnership discussions will continue in 2022, with invitations inclusive of resourcing to be extended to all other Registered Aboriginal Parties from 2022. RAP partnership agreements are being designed separate to but in respect of the legislative obligations of both RAPs and the transport portfolio, including the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 and Native Title Act 1993.

Measure 18.1.5 Number of Joint Management Plans and area of land covered

Joint Management Plans are collaborative partnerships between the Victorian Government and Traditional Owners, that recognise and respect Aboriginal land, water and cultural rights and work to embed Aboriginal knowledge in the everyday management of parks and reserves.

A key attribute of joint management plans is that they integrate Traditional Owner cultural authority, knowledge and care for Country into the management of the parks and reserves within the plans.

There are 3 joint management plans with three Traditional Owner groups in Victoria, covering a total of 1225.75 square kilometres, spanning 17 parks and reserves:

  • Gunaikurnai: joint management plan over ten parks and reserves in the Gippsland region
  • Dja Dja Wurrung: joint management plan for six parks and reserves in the Central West
  • Yorta Yorta: joint management plan for Barmah National Park in the Riverina region.

Measure 18.1.6 Number of cultural burns conducted

From 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, Traditional Owners conducted fifteen cultural burns with the support of Victorian Government agencies. This has increased by 50% since the previous year (ten in total) and highlights the critical role of Traditional Owners in fire management, particularly in light of the recent 2019–20 bushfire crisis.

Cultural Burning – Supporting Traditional Owners to Care for Country

Traditional Owners undertake cultural burning for a range of reasons to sustain and care for Country – including protecting sacred sites, promoting revegetation, producing food and game, and maintaining spiritual connection with Country.

In support of this effort and the implementation of the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy (Fire Strategy), the Victorian Government invested $22.5 million, through the 2021/22 State Budget, to re-invigorate and continue to support Traditional Owner-led cultural land and fire management practices. Central to the process and development of the Fire Strategy has been the 50 plus Traditional Owners and Aboriginal fire knowledge holders from across Victoria, who form the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Knowledge Holder group, including representatives from Traditional Owner groups, as well as Aboriginal staff from DELWP, Parks Victoria and the Country Fire Authority.

A key part of re-establishing cultural practices here in Victoria is access to Country to enable Traditional Owners to practice cultural fire and other land management activities. This is central to enabling and supporting self-determination. It is also vital supporting the right of Traditional Owners to continue their culture.

Many of the Traditional Owner groups continue to build capacity in this area by conducting multiple cultural burns and working in partnership with Forest Fire Management Victoria to assist in delivering planned burn requirements. It has been encouraging to see new Traditional Owner groups either deliver their first burn, working on nominations or planning for future cultural burns.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has continued to work with Victoria’s Traditional Owner groups to increase the number of Cultural burns over the past 12 months. Forest Fire Management Victoria Regional Cultural Burning Officers have been instrumental in working with groups to understand their aspirations and work with them through the nomination, planning and delivery stages of the burns.

Measure 18.1.7 Number of formal partnership agreements for planning and management between Aboriginal communities and key water and catchment agencies

Traditional Owner corporations hold significant rights to the land and have cultural obligations to manage traditional lands and waters. They are equal partners in ensuring catchment health.

In many cases, Traditional Owners’ rights over Crown land and waterways are recognised in settlement agreements (covering more than 40 parks and reserves) and governance arrangements to ensure their perspectives, knowledge and interests are valued.

In 2021, there was a substantial increase in active partnership agreements (+50), little change in ongoing agreements (+6) and a notable increase in closed agreements (+27).

The 2021 data includes partnership agreements with 32 Aboriginal organisations and 21 government agencies (DELWP, 10 Catchment Management Authorities and 10 water corporations) out of a possible total of 30. This is an increase in 2020 numbers (21 Aboriginal organisations, 16 of 30 water agencies).

Goal 19: Aboriginal culture and language are supported and celebrated


Measures under Goal 19 have continued to improve.

The Victorian Government recognises culture as a protective factor critical to countering the poorer outcomes that are statistically experienced by Aboriginal people in Victoria. The protective function of culture, identity and connection to Country was emphasised in the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System final report.

There continues to be many examples of recognising and celebrating the unique status, rights, cultures and history of Aboriginal communities in Victoria.

Data note

All measures under this goal are featured.

Goal 19 directly aligns with the following Closing the Gap Outcomes and Targets

Outcome 16: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages are strong, supported and flourishing.

  • Target 16: By 2031, there is a sustained increase in number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken.

Closing the Gap – How Victoria is tracking nationally

Nationally in 2018–19, there were 123 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken (with 14 considered strong).

This target relies on data from the National Indigenous Languages Survey. No new data since the baseline year of 2018–19 was available at the time of reporting.

State and territory data are not available.

19.1 Support the preservation, promotion and practice of culture and languages

Measure 19.1.1 Participation in community events which celebrate Aboriginal culture

Strong Roots for Our Futures Program

Part of the Traditional Owner Nation-building Package, the Strong Roots for Our Futures Program resources foundational activities to support Traditional Owners to build strong groups, ready to engage in formal recognition processes if they choose. Designed based on extensive engagement, the program supports family gatherings and reunions, and Traditional Owners self-determined projects in Far East Gippsland, North East, Central North and Mid North West Victoria.

In 2021, the Jonhson and Kirby family from Central North were granted $20,000 for a family reunion on Country for the first time after nearly a decade. Over 150 members of the Johnson and Kirby family involving four generations of Elders, adults and children, camped together for five days to celebrate culture and connection, and to make longstanding memories for generations to come. The family honoured the memory of the ancestors, Alfred Johnson and Christine Kirby and all loved ones passed away by a memorial ceremony, and a corroboree performed by the young descendants. The gathering was featured in Robinvale Sentinel (22 April 2021) and celebrated as a healing and rejuvenation opportunity by the family.

Measure 19.1.2 Investment in Aboriginal language and culture revitalisation programs

Connectedness to culture and community strengthens individual and collective identities, and promotes positive self-esteem, resilience, and improved outcomes for Aboriginal people.

While cultural identity is central to the lives of Aboriginal Victorians, all Victorians should celebrate and take pride in Aboriginal culture and language.

The below table outlines standalone Aboriginal language and culture revitalisation initiatives supported by the Victorian Government. Significant government investment in language and culture revitalisation is also embedded in many of the foundational programs and services delivered by ACCOs, such as kinship family finding, return to Country and cultural camps.



Koorie Heritage Trust

The Victorian Government funds the Koori Heritage Trust to support its operations; delivery of the Koorie Family History Service for members of the Stolen Generations; and the retention and revival of Victorian Aboriginal history and language through the Koorie Oral History Project.

Connecting Home Limited

The Victorian Government funds Connecting Home Limited to support its operations and provide case management services, counselling and healing initiatives for members of the Stolen Generations and their families.

Koorie Youth Council

The Victorian Government funds the Koorie Youth Council to support its operations and deliver activities that engage with, and advance the rights and representation of Aboriginal young people, including the annual Koorie Youth Summit.

Cultural Markers Project

The Victorian Government is funding the Cultural Markers project, which aims to increase visibility of Aboriginal culture in inner Melbourne. The project is being developed in collaboration with Traditional Owners and seeks to create digital cultural markers that can be viewed through augmented reality on a smart device at a number of cultural sites across Melbourne’s CBD.

Reconciliation Victoria

The Victorian Government funds Reconciliation Victoria to support its operations and deliver a range of activities and products that promote reconciliation, including the Maggolee website and Reconciliation Week initiatives.

Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust (Trust)

The Victorian Government funds the Trust to deliver municipal and essential services to its residents. This funding supports the management of Trust’s land, water and built environment, as well as the preservation of cultural heritage.

Geographic Names Victoria (GNV) The Victorian Government funds GNV to oversee the naming and registration of roads, features and localities in Victoria by administering the Geographic Place Names Act 1998. GNV formally engages with Traditional Owners to support and progress this work.
Our Language Matters – Aboriginal place names workshops The Victorian Government funds the delivery of Aboriginal-led workshops to recognise the importance of Aboriginal place names, strengthen partnerships with TOs, and increase the number of Aboriginal place names throughout Victoria. The workshops partner with RAPs, municipal councils, and Victorian government departments and agencies. Eight workshops have been delivered since 2018.

Victorian Aboriginal language programs in Schools

The Victorian Government is funding Aboriginal languages education in kindergartens, schools and the VET sector through a collaborative partnership involving VAEAI, the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority and DET.

VICNAMES – sound files for Traditional Owner place names

The Victorian Government has funded VICNAMES to produce sound files, which will allow users to hear a name in the spoken language. This will assist with the pronunciation of place names. This feature will initially focus on the Aboriginal language and the recordings will be spoken by Traditional Owners.

Naming Authority training The Victorian Government is supporting municipal Councils, government departments and agencies to understand the process around using Traditional Owner languages. Since 2018, 6 councils have been provided Naming Authority Training.
Documentaries The Victorian Government has funded the Victorian International Year of Indigenous Languages to develop short documentaries to showcase the importance of Traditional Owner language, place names, culture and history. Since 2019, 2 documentaries have been developed for Victoria wide publication, focusing on Woowookarung Regional Park in Ballarat and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Budj Bim in Western Victoria.
Classifying road and place records The Victorian Government funds the VICNAMES – Register of Geographic Names enhancements to enable the classification of Victoria’s 208,000 roads and 46,000 places to identify Traditional Owner languages. This is to better promote the use of TO languages across Victoria.

Djakitjuk Djanga native food industry development program

Agriculture Victoria has partnered with the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations (FVTOC) to deliver the Djakitjuk Djanga native food industry development program. This grants-based program and Community of Practice is supporting 13 Aboriginal organisations to progress native plant crop trials. The objective is to help overcome key resource-related barriers to commercially produce native plant food and botanicals.

Agriculture Victoria has also partnered with the FVTOC to support the implementation of the Traditional Owner Native Food and Botanicals Strategy. Early implementation activity is focusing on the structural elements that need reform to ensure Aboriginal Cultural Intellectual Property is better protected and Traditional Owners are enabled to lead the industry.

Updated Budj Bim Cultural Landscape Master Plan and Strategic Investment Plan

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in South-West Victoria contains one of the world’s most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems developed by the Gunditjmara people over a period of at least 6,600 years. In 2014, Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation completed the initial Budj Bim Master Plan. In recognition of Budj Bim’s significance and its untapped tourism potential, the Victorian Government has invested $11.86 million in priority visitor infrastructure.

The Budj Bim Master Plan has recently been updated to reflect what has been delivered to date and align with current visitation trends and preferences for visitor experiences. A Strategic Investment Plan has also been developed to progress the vision for the landscape to 2035. The strategic work focuses on the cultural, social, economic and environmental outcomes for the Gunditj Mirring community to build on the World Heritage Listing as well as development of a series of business cases to identify and present short term investment opportunities to inform funding requests to Government.

Echuca–Moama Bridge Project

As part of the largest transport infrastructure project in northern Victoria, Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) and Transport for NSW have built a second Murray River crossing to connect Echuca and Moama on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta people. Works started in March 2020 and were completed in April 2022.

From the earliest stages of planning, the project prioritised the protection of Echuca–Moama’s rich cultural heritage. MRPV and its contractor McConnell Dowell Constructors established strong relationships with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation to collaborate on key cultural heritage issues and employment opportunities.

The new Murray River crossing will be known as Dhungala Bridge and the new Campaspe River crossing will be called Yakoa Bridge – the respective names in Yorta Yorta language for the two rivers. The story behind the new Dhungala bridge’s name is told in the Dreamtime-themed artwork, Dhungala Dreaming, created by Yorta Yorta elder Aunty Judy Atkinson, on display in nearby Victoria Park.

Dja Dja Wurrung Corporate and Community Centre

The Victorian Government committed funding of $11.288 million over 2020–21 and 2021–22 for the development and construction of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation’s corporate and community centre in Bendigo.

The Centre will be the permanent base for the Corporation’s operational activities, its emerging agriculture business, its cultural and natural resource management services enterprise, ‘Djandak’ (Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd), and for Dja Dja Wurrung material culture. The centre will be designed for Dja Dja Wurrung members, will provide spaces for learning and interaction and honour the survival, growth and culture of the Dja Dja Wurrung. The Centre will also create a destination for arts and cultural events.

On 18 February 2022, the Attorney-General handed over freehold title under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2019 (Vic) to 5.578 hectares of public land in Golden Square, Bendigo to the Corporation to build the new centre.

In 2013, the State recognised Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner rights in 265,600 hectares of public land in central Victoria, as the foundation for a Settlement Package agreed under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic).

Goal 20: Racism is eliminated


Measures under Goal 20 have continued to stay the same.

Existing data shows that while there is some evidence of attitudinal change in the Victorian community towards concepts such as self-determination and celebration of First Nations cultures, Aboriginal Victorians continue to experience a high rate of racism and discrimination.

Data note

The following measure relies on data that is infrequently collected. No new data was available at the time of reporting.

  • Measure 20.1.1 Proportion of Aboriginal people who report having experienced racism in the previous 12 months

Data for this measure is available through the Data Dashboard, which can be accessed via the First Peoples – State Relations website.

In this report the data source for measure 20.1.2 has been altered to better align to the measure. The data source used in previous reports was the number of complaints under the Equal Opportunity Act and Racial and Religious Tolerance Act relating to Indigenous people (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission).

Closing the Gap – Relevant Outcomes and Targets for Goal 20

The National Agreement does not contain outcomes and targets that align with this VAAF goal. Victoria is pursuing more ambitious and comprehensive goals under the VAAF, which are reported on in this chapter and the Data Dashboard.

Closing the Gap – How Victoria is tracking nationally

Not applicable.

20.1 Address and eliminate racism

Measure 20.1.2 Prevalence of racist attitudes against Aboriginal Victorians held by the Victorian community

National survey data collected by Reconciliation Australia in 2020 indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly three-times as likely to have experienced verbal abuse in the past six months (36%), than the general community (13%), and are much more likely to have experienced other forms of prejudice on the basis of their race. This includes social media abuse (36%), being prevented from renting or buying a property (21%), physical violence (18%), refused service in a shop (19%), refused entry to a venue (21%), or other forms of prejudice (24%).

One of the first steps to addressing racism is recognising it. According to Reconciliation Australia, 21% of Victorians feel there are low levels of prejudice between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while 47% feel these levels are fairly high or very high.

The survey also highlighted changing attitudes toward concepts such as self-determination and celebration of First Nations cultures. 70% of Victorians believe that it is very important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them. This is the highest out of all Australian states and territories. It is also the most notable shift in perspective out of all states and territories, increasing from 58% in 2018 to 70% in 2020. Victorians were also most likely out of all state and territories to agree that they are proud of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures (68%).

While this demonstrates some positive attitudinal changes in the Victorian community, it is evident from the many incidents of racism experienced by Aboriginal people that more must be done.

Anti-Racism Taskforce

The Anti-Racism Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established in June 2021 as a joint initiative between the Minister for Treaty and First Peoples and the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. The Taskforce was established to provide strategic advice and recommendations on the development of Victoria’s first whole of government Anti-Racism Strategy.

The Taskforce is chaired by Josh Bull MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Sheena Watt MP, Member for Northern Metropolitan, and a proud Yorta Yorta woman. The Taskforce includes a broad range of experts and community members (11 in total) with lived experience of racism and discrimination, alongside representatives from the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The Taskforce includes two Aboriginal members:

  • Ruby Tribe, a Kamilaroi woman and front-line health services worker who works as a vaccination nurse at First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing.
  • Professor Yin Paradies, a Wakaya man and academic and expert in the field of racism and antiracism practice.

The work of the Taskforce includes a focus on addressing racism experienced by Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In late 2021, the Taskforce met with Professor Eleanor Bourke, Wergaia and Wamba Wamba Elder, and Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, to identify opportunities to complement the work of the Commission.

The Anti-Racism Strategy is being developed in consultation with Aboriginal community groups, as well as multicultural and multifaith communities. Roundtables were held in November 2021 with Aboriginal community groups and the Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Justice Caucus. Feedback has also been sought through an online survey. Oversight from an interdepartmental committee will ensure that the Anti‑Racism Strategy is developed to support other self-determination initiatives across government.

Domain 6: Victorian Government Investment and Action

The Victorian Government is committed to promoting self-determination, treaty and truth. Supporting Traditional Owners is a critical element of that.

The key Aboriginal Governance Forum for realising outcomes in this Domain is the Caring for Country Partnership Forum.

Traditional Owner Nation-building Package

The Traditional Owner Nation-building Package continued to support Traditional Owners to engage in nation-building and prepare for future treaty negotiations.

A further $11.12 million was provided in the 2021/2022 Budget to continue delivering programs and funding nation-building activities until June 2024.

  • Nation-building Resource Pool was launched in September 2020 to support Traditional Owners groups with formal recognition to engage in nation-building activities, as determined by each group. Administered by the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, a total $1.4 million in funding was awarded to five groups in 2020–21.
  • Traditional Owner Engagement Officers continue to be employed in most formally recognised Traditional Owner groups to support their nation-building and treaty readiness work.
  • Formal recognition work. Funding continues to be provided to First Nations Legal & Research Services to deliver focused and intensive services to Traditional Owners of the Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland to continue pursuing formal recognition. This has included research engagement with individuals and families, conducting family group gatherings, and holding full group meetings. This work has been undertaken independent of government.

Communities of Practice on engagement with Traditional Owners without formal recognition

Six community of practice meetings were convened across Far East Gippsland, North East, Central North and Mid North West Victoria in 2021. 16 government agencies came together to coordinate engagement activities and learn from each other to improve engagement with Traditional Owners without formal recognition. The meetings have established and strengthened connections between key regional staff delivering projects on Country. It has also enabled agencies to utilise existing engagement forums across the network to reduce the engagement burden on Traditional Owners.

These communities of practice respond to feedback from over 120 Traditional Owners of the regions documented in the 2019 Report 'To be heard and for the words to have actions' Traditional Owner voices: improving government relationships and supporting strong foundations’. Traditional Owners in areas without formal recognition want to be engaged by government, particularly about decisions affecting Country.

Review of Victorian Regional Forest Agreements

Victoria appointed a Traditional Owner as one of the three members of an independent Panel to undertake a Major Event Review of Victorian Regional Forest Agreements following the 2019–20 bushfires, to assess the impacts of the bushfires and make recommendations for remedial actions.

In conducting its review, the independent Panel undertook dedicated and thorough consultation with Traditional Owners from across Victoria, including representatives of Traditional Owner groups (including groups both with and without formal recognition), Traditional Owner co-governance groups and forums, and Victorian ACCHOs. In total, the Panel held 21 online and face to face meetings with Traditional Owner groups.

Aboriginal Landholder Information Service

The Victorian Government has provided $0.24 million in funding annually through to 2024-25 to provide culturally safe and fit for purpose agricultural information and skills to Aboriginal land managers. A range of tailored workshops, training programs, study tours and fieldtrips have been delivered to more than 20 Aboriginal organisations and individuals with this funding.

Traditional Owner Corporation (TOC) and DELWP Exchange Policy

The policy provides an opportunity for DELWP staff to work directly with Traditional Owners and learn from their experience. This strengthens partnerships and assists TOCs with project, policy or administrative support to help alleviate pressures from the increase in delivery demands.

Advancing self-determination through the State Budget

A number of departments are advancing self-determination through the State Budget. For example, DH has shown leadership by requiring that all budget proposals include a mandatory Aboriginal Impact Assessment. This has been supported by tools, guidance, and all staff information sessions. DH also provided the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector with transparent information on the budget process so priorities can be co-designed.

Both DPC and DTF have applied self-determination principles to analyse budget bids as well as provide advice to other departments to help increase Aboriginal community engagement and influence on funding decisions that directly impact Aboriginal Victorians. DTF has continued to refine business case templates, helping to promote greater collaboration between departments and Aboriginal communities when developing bids.

In its Pupangarli Marnmarnepu Implementation Action Plan, DELWP committed to enable Aboriginal self-determination in its budget development processes. Budget submissions for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Budget were developed with the aim of addressing the systemic issues related to the current ad hoc, short-term funding of Traditional Owners.

Other examples of prioritising Aboriginal culture

  • Creating workplaces that are sensitive to cultural needs and providing opportunities for Aboriginal staff to connect through Aboriginal Staff Networks. For example, DoT’s Network designed the first Transport Portfolio Aboriginal Staff Conference, prioritising discussions on Aboriginal employee experiences to inform a cultural safety review and framework for the portfolio.
  • Equipping VPS staff with the knowledge and confidence to understand treaty and its practical impacts for their work through the Preparing for Treaty MicroCertification series. In October 2021, the first DPC-funded cohort commenced, delivered by the University of Melbourne. The series explores the role that treaties have played, and might play, in relations between Indigenous peoples and contemporary settler societies.
  • Supporting cultural pride and identity among Aboriginal Victorians through significant dates. NAIDOC week 2021 was celebrated across Victoria with online and in-person events in partnership with the Victorian NAIDOC Committee and Local Aboriginal Networks under the theme ‘Heal Country!’.
  • Embedding Aboriginal language and culture into service design and the built environment. For example, the Victorian Fisheries Authority is partnering with Yorta Yorta Nations Aboriginal Corporation to co-design a new Arcadia native fish hatchery with a visitor centre named in Yorta Yorta language. Another example is the Aboriginal Cultural Identity artwork, Mirring – Country, located at DELWP’s offices, by artist Thomas Day. The artwork binds together the elements of land, mountain, water, fire, forest and ocean, demonstrating the work DELWP does, and the values staff hold, as well as the department’s ongoing commitment to working in full partnership with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.
  • Celebrating the unique status, rights, cultures and history of Aboriginal communities in Victoria. The Deadly & Proud campaign began in February 2021 and featured 21 Aboriginal storytellers who shared their stories of pride across the themes of ancient cultures, resilience, community and the historic path to treaty. The campaign’s reach was amplified through well-known ambassadors, events, advertising and partnerships – attracting widespread positive news coverage. By 30 June 2021, the campaign’s website had obtained more than 200,000 views. Since finalising the campaign, the Deadly & Proud website continues to attract high levels of online engagement, helping Victorians to listen and learn in relation to the path to treaty and truth-telling.