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Acknowledgement of Country, language statement, forewords, about the report and about the data.


We acknowledge Victoria’s First Peoples and their ongoing strength in practising the world’s oldest living culture. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters on which we live and work and pay our respect to their Elders past and present.

We recognise that from time immemorial, First Peoples in Victoria have practised their law and lore, customs and languages, and nurtured Country through their spiritual, cultural, material and economic connections to land, water and resources.

We acknowledge the long-lasting, far-reaching and inter generational consequences of the dispossession of First Peoples of their Country are a direct result of colonisation and the establishment of the State of Victoria. The reality of colonisation involved establishing Victoria with the specific intent of excluding Aboriginal people and their laws, cultures, customs and traditions, including through horrific violence perpetuated at individual, societal and systemic levels. This history, and the systems it gave rise to, continue to harm First Peoples today. It is only through true Aboriginal self-determination that we can begin to right the wrongs of the past.

We acknowledge the strength and resilience of First Peoples in the face of historical and ongoing injustices, and the survival of their living cultures, knowledge and traditions. 

Language statement

Language is important and can change over time, and words can have different meanings for different people.

We recognise the diversity of Aboriginal peoples, communities and cultures throughout Victoria. While the terms ‘Koorie’ or ‘Koori’ are commonly used to describe Aboriginal people of southeast Australia, we have used the term ‘Aboriginal' to include all people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who live in Victoria.

Message from the Premier

As the government looks towards entering historic treaty negotiations, and as the Yoorrook Justice Commission commences its second year of operation, the 2021 Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report offers us a timely opportunity to reflect.

It's a chance to take stock of the progress we have made under the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (2018–2023), the Self-Determination Reform Framework, and for the first time, the Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan 2021–2023. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge how much more work there is to do, to learn from what has worked, and to listen to the solutions put forward by First Peoples.

The Victorian Government is committed to justice for First Peoples, to working in partnership, and to addressing racism, discrimination and inequality. We know that to forge a stronger and fairer future, First Peoples’ voices must lead the way.

It is through treaty and truth that we will create change. It is through meaningful self-determination that better results will be achieved. Outcomes must be shaped and driven by First Peoples.

The Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report provides us with the data we need to learn, and to consider how we can do more, and do better.

The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier

Message from the Minister for Treaty and First Peoples

I am pleased in my role as Minister for Treaty and First Peoples to present the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2021. As Victoria looks to the future and prepares to negotiate treaties with First Peoples, this report powerfully demonstrates where we are at, and how far we have to go, to ensure equity of outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

This report is an important accountability tool. It provides an opportunity to consider how Government has tracked against our commitments in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018–2023, Victoria’s overarching and ambitious framework for Aboriginal affairs. This report also measures Government’s progress against two key components of our overall commitments in Aboriginal affairs; the Self-Determination Reform Framework and, for the first time, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This report shows a range of positive outcomes, including the highest rate of Aboriginal child immunisations than ever before, enrolment of 100 per cent of Aboriginal four-year-old children in a funded kindergarten program, and significant increases in the number of Aboriginal people accessing health services. However, this report also demonstrates that systemic injustices remain.

Colonisation, the dispossession of First Peoples of their land and waters and systemic racism continue to harm First Peoples today. This is particularly apparent in the ongoing over-representation of First Peoples in the criminal justice and out-of-home care systems. The responsibility for addressing this over-representation lies with Government, and this report documents actions being taken.

Our commitment to treaty, in partnership with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, and the establishment of Australia’s first truth-telling commission, the Yoorrook Justice Commission, are central to achieving true self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians. We are also driving reform through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, with Aboriginal voices leading the way through the establishment of a new Closing the Gap Partnership Forum.

As the case studies in this report demonstrate, the best outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians are achieved when policies and programs are led by the strengths and expertise of Aboriginal people.

While the voices of First Peoples have informed the narrative and analysis in this report, Government recognises that research and data can be influenced by systemic racism and bias. First Peoples are often misrepresented through deficit framing that denies sovereignty and does not support agency and self-determination.

Government will be guided by First Peoples, including recommendations from the Yoorrook Justice Commission and proposals raised as part of the treaty process, when it comes to best practice Indigenous Data Sovereignty reform.

Although the past two years have presented unprecedented challenges, Government’s commitment to self-determination has remained a priority. The 2022/23 State Budget invests more than $400 million in Aboriginal affairs over the next four years. I look forward to continuing to work with Aboriginal Victorians towards treaty, truth and justice; and to realising a shared, self-determined future that First Peoples demand and deserve.

The Hon. Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Minister for Treaty and First Peoples

About this report

The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018–2023 (VAAF) is the guiding framework in Aboriginal affairs.

The purpose of the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report is to outline progress towards achieving the vision of the VAAF: That all Aboriginal Victorian people, families and communities are safe, resilient, thriving and living culturally rich lives. 

The report sets out how government is working with community to realise the VAAF’s 20 goals across 6 domains:

  • Children, family and home
  • Learning and skills
  • Opportunity and prosperity
  • Heath and wellbeing
  • Justice and safety
  • Culture and Country. 

The report also outlines ongoing work across government to progress Aboriginal self-determination in line with the Self-Determination Reform Framework (SDRF). Under the SDRF, Victorian Government departments and agencies are continuing to reform internal processes, practices and policies to enable Aboriginal self-determination. This includes the Victorian Government’s journey towards treaty, in partnership with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (First Peoples’ Assembly), as well as our commitment to supporting the objectives and transformative priorities of the Yoorrook Justice Commission.

Victoria’s priorities under the VAAF and the SDRF are complimented by our commitments under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement). For the first time, this report includes dedicated reporting on progress in Victoria to implement the National Agreement through the Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan 2021–2023 (Implementation Plan). Victoria is pursuing more ambitious and comprehensive outcome-focused goals under the VAAF and Victoria’s Implementation Plan, over and above targets set under the National Agreement.

The report provides community and government with valuable information that allows for accountability of government’s actions, monitoring of outcomes, as well as highlighting the challenges that still need to be addressed. 

In line with government’s commitment to self-determination, the report was developed through a coordinated and collaborative approach with input from government departments and their relevant Aboriginal Governance Forums.

This is the third annual report against the VAAF since its release in 2018. With the current VAAF set to expire in 2023, government and Aboriginal Victorians will soon have the opportunity to consider future approaches, including how arrangements might be influenced through treaty outcomes.

About the data

Data collection and limitations

This report provides the latest available information about how the Victorian Government is progressing against the 6 domains and 111 measures in the VAAF. The majority of data reported provides an assessment of progress for the 2020–21 financial year, or previous years if the 2020–21 data is not available.

Data has been sourced from annual State and Commonwealth administrative collections. If this is not available, survey data has been used, which is the case for most non-service-related measures not directly collected and reported on by the Victorian Government. This data has primarily been sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics commonwealth survey collections. The use of survey data means the latest year of available data varies across the report. It should be noted that some of the data reported against the VAAF measures does not directly align with the measure definition due to the limitation of data published in the public domain.

Crude rates

Due to the large array of data sources used to calculate progress against each measure, the majority of rate calculations used in this report are crude rates. Where age standardised rates have been used, this has been noted in the report.

Closing the Gap data

Summaries of how Victoria is tracking nationally for the 17 Closing the Gap targets and outcomes are included on the overview page for each relevant VAAF goal. There is currently no new data available for eight of the 17 targets. Over time, as more data becomes available, the monitoring of the targets will provide greater insight into what progress is being made.

For some targets (such as Target 1 and Target 14), reporting is only for those jurisdictions which have adequate levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification. Future reporting aims to include additional disaggregation for all states and territories.

As Victoria is pursuing more ambitious and comprehensive goals under the VAAF than those set out under the National Agreement, many VAAF goals and measures do not have a counterpoint under the National Agreement for direct comparison.

Data on Victoria's progress towards the 2031 Closing the Gap targets can be found on the Productivity Commission's website dashboard. This data is released quarterly with the annual data report released in July of each year by the Federal Productivity Commission.

Data availability for VAAF measures

Several measures do not have updated data available for inclusion in this report because of the frequency of data collection, particularly for the Australian Census. Updated data for these measures will therefore next be reported on in the 2022 VGAAR. All measures, including measures in previous reports, are accessible through the VAAF Data Dashboard.

VAAF Data Dashboard

In line with the Government’s commitment in the VAAF to improve data access, transparency and narration, an interactive VAAF Data Dashboard has been developed.

The VAAF Data Dashboard is available from the First Peoples – State Relations website. It offers a user-friendly platform to access detailed state level data. It also includes disaggregated data at the Local Government Area level where available. While this report is limited to the data available during the reporting cycle, the VAAF Data Dashboard will be updated regularly to report on measures when new data become available.

COVID-19 pandemic

Changes in performance for some measures between 2020 and 2022 may be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next iteration of reporting will likely provide a more robust picture of trends from 2020.

Indigenous Data Sovereignty

The Victorian Government acknowledges the importance of Indigenous Data Sovereignty and is committed to working with the Yoorrook Justice Commission as well as Aboriginal communities and organisations, including the First Peoples’ Assembly, to develop appropriate policies and frameworks in line with its commitment under the VAAF and National Agreement. Many departments are also continuing work to progress data sovereignty principles.