Australia’s annual Good Design Awards program is one of the oldest and most prestigious international design awards in the world, promoting excellence in design and innovation since 1958. It is recognised by the World Design Organization (WDO) as Australia’s peak international design endorsement program.
Council’s Our Languages Matter program of workshops, to encourage greater use of Aboriginal language in place naming, has been awarded a prestigious ‘Tick’ trophy at an award ceremony on Thursday 11 July.
The purpose of the workshops, developed with ThinkPlace and presented with Geographic Names Victoria, is to provide opportunities for Traditional Owners to promote the importance of local Aboriginal languages in the naming of roads, geographic features and localities. Importantly, participants from Local and State Government will be supported to explore ways for establishing strong professional relationships with Traditional Owners to enable future collaborative naming activities.
"Our cultural heritage is best understood through demonstrating respect for Traditional Owners – our knowledge, our skills, our appreciation of our heritage. The practicing of our culture and traditions makes us stronger and this strength offers all Victorians opportunities to value, understand and celebrate the unique cultural heritage we care for on behalf of all of us.”
Rodney Carter, Chairperson
Council strives for Aboriginal people to speak for, and with, their cultural heritage. Using language in place naming is an important contribution to reclamation and use of Aboriginal languages by Aboriginal Victorians. Traditional Owner managed Language and Country are fundamental to Council’s purpose and to these workshops.
“This is a project that applies co-design approaches to a sensitive and complex topic, and the adoption of visual techniques to work around language challenges. The Jury appreciated the connection between participation and positive impact for the communities involved - creating value through both process and outcome. It's heartening to see both social impact and the potential for economic advancement. Well done.”
Good Design Award Judges
The Gunditjmara peoples' Country, their relationship to Country, their innovation and their custodianship was recognised at a global level with the inclusion of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Saturday 6 July 2019.
The strongest protection of our cultural sites is achieved when others learn to care and, today, the world has said they care.
"In us lives a culture that extends through time but, at the end of the day, we drive modern cars, eat modern food, live in a modern context and we apply our understandings of cultural identity to a modern world. Today the modern world has acknowledged our ancient lineal connection to culture and Country, forged over tens of thousands of years."
Rodney Carter, Chairperson
As a Council of Traditional Owners, we understand the work and commitment made by the Gunditjmara peoples to have their ancient lineal connection to Country recognised. We applaud their strength and resilience in succeeding.
There are many of us who have had the opportunity to be exposed to our culture. It shapes identity and is a lived spirituality fundamental to the wellbeing of our communities through connectedness across generations. Our cultural heritage has been passed from the Ancestors to future generations through today’s Traditional Owners whose responsibilities are profound and lifelong. We as first people, with education and understanding, can share our culture with the world.
“We support the Gunditmara peoples in contributing to the cultural conversation for the protection of significant Aboriginal site within the state. It is important that we work collectively to ensure all Aboriginal groups’ cultural rights are respected and recognised.”
Geraldine Atkinson, Council Member
In the first week of commencement of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, on 30 May 2007, the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Corporation in Victoria’s south west were the first Aboriginal party to be registered to better protect and manage their cultural heritage. At the time, then Chair of the newly formed Council, Ricky Mullett, said “this is an important first step towards giving Aboriginal communities the decision-making power to manage and protect their cultural heritage at the local level – which is what traditional communities have wanted for a long time.”
The inclusion of Budj Bim on the World Heritage List, the first site in Australia to be included solely on cultural values, is another significant first step for the Gunditjmara peoples. We encourage all Traditional Owners to follow in their footsteps and let the world look with awe on our culture, the oldest living culture on earth.
In this International Year of Indigenous Languages, we reflect on the strength of our cultures and the many ways Victorian Traditional Owners express and promote their cultural values. The health and wellbeing of our communities is underpinned by strong culture and a strong sense of connection with it.
Council actively works to protect, manage and share Aboriginal cultural heritage with all Victorians. We have taken the opportunity to reflect on what we mean by cultural heritage – the things that are cultural heritage, the value it holds for us and the inherited responsibilities we have for its protection.
I would like to applaud the Gunditjmara people for the work they have done on having the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape considered for a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee will formally consider the submission next month and we have high hopes that Budj Bim will become the first listed place recognised in Australia for Aboriginal cultural values.
The February Supreme Court decision, by Justice Bell, upheld Council’s registration of the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. In doing so, Justice Bell validated our strong, independent Registered Aboriginal Parties and their role under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
The decision supports RAPs as the Traditional Owners and First Peoples to once again take their rightful place as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
I’m proud of what Council has done over the last decade to empower Traditional Owners and resolve the injustice to our people by appointing Registered Aboriginal Parties as custodians and managers of their cultural heritage. The strength of RAPs lies in their inclusivity of all people they were established to represent, so that they may enjoy the benefits of formal recognition as is their right.
Since 2006, we have been a united Council and spoken with one voice. This year we have sadly accepted the resignation of Council members Nellie Flagg and Ron Jones whose contributions to Council have been generous. Later this month the terms of Jim Berg and Tim Chatfield, two of our foundation members, will end and they will retire from Council.
On behalf of Council and the community, I want to thank Nellie, Ron, Jim and Tim for the enormous contributions they have made.
As members of the first Council, Jim, Tim and I met as a group for the first time before the Act was proclaimed, with an intensive work schedule to undertake prior to the Act commencing. That important work never stopped. Since the Act came into effect on 28 May 2007, 23 people have been Council members, and together we have:
- appointed RAPs to 68% of the state
- twice had our decisions and processes upheld at the Supreme Court
- been the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry
- actively contributed to two reviews of the Act
- accepted responsibility for Ancestral Remains in Victoria
There is still much work to do and it is with you, our stakeholders and supporters, that we will accomplish it.
Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council Members
Rodney Carter - Chairperson
Sissy Pettit Havea - Deputy Chairperson
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
Aboriginal cultural heritage refers to the knowledge and lore, practices and people, objects and places that are valued, culturally meaningful and connected to identity and Country.
Aboriginal cultural heritage shapes identity and is a lived spirituality fundamental to the wellbeing of communities through connectedness across generations.
Aboriginal cultural heritage has been passed from the Ancestors to future generations through today’s Traditional Owners whose responsibilities are profound and lifelong.
A fundamental responsibility of Council is to determine applications for the registration of Registered Aboriginal Parties.
Council's decision making processes are strong and robust. In instances where applications have been declined, the reason is often that the applicant lacked inclusivity and representativeness of other Traditional Owners with rights to the application area. Council's Reason for Decision documents are available on its website.
Council encourages all Traditional Owner organisations to be proactive and to explore negotiation and conciliation options available for the resolution of boundary and membership disputes. We understand the complexities and challenges faced by Traditional Owner groups needing to resolve competing claims, and strongly encourage them to meet and find solutions.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BGLC)
At its meeting on 7 February 2019, Council declined the RAP application from BGLC in relation to an area to the south west of its existing RAP area which included the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd.
In a separate decision on 7 February 2019, Council also declined BGLC’s RAP application in relation to an area to the south west of its existing RAP area, which commenced at the South Australian border and extended easterly to Harrow.
Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council Aboriginal Corporation (BSCAC) formerly known as Yaluk-ut Weelam Elders Council Aboriginal Corporation
At its meeting on 4 April 2019, Council declined the application from BLSCAC in relation to an area which extended from the mouth of the Werribee River to and included Wilsons Promontory National Park.
Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC)
At its meeting on 7 February 2019, Council declined the RAP application from EMAC in relation to the area which encompassed the Martang RAP area, the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd, and an area east of Gariwerd to the Wimmera River in the north and the Ararat-St Arnaud Rd in the east.
In a separate decision on 7 February 2019, Council also declined EMAC’s RAP application in relation to two areas: an area west of Ballarat with Skipton at its centre, Beaufort to the north and Cressy to the south; and a separate area in Victoria’s surf coast district which incorporated Airey’s Inlet, Point Addis Marine National Park, Anglesea and surrounding areas.
At its meeting on 4 April 2019, Council declined EMAC’s RAP application in relation to two areas: an area east of Gariwerd bordered by the RAP areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Corporation, Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Martang Pty. Ltd. and Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation; and a separate area from Warrnambool to Winchelsea which incorporated the great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay and Lorne.
First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (FPMMAC)
At its meeting on 4 April 2019, Council acknowledged correspondence from FPMMAC notifying Council of the withdrawal of its RAP application in relation to the area south of its existing RAP area.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC)
At its meeting on 7 February 2019, Council declined the RAP application from GMTOAC in relation to an area to the north west of its existing RAP area, which commenced at the South Australian border and extended easterly to Harrow.
Taungurung Land and Waters Council Aboriginal Corporation (TLWCAC)
At its meeting on 8 February 2019, Council appointed TLWCAC as a RAP for the part of its RAP application area that aligned with the area of its Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) (entered into with the State in October 2018). This decision was made pursuant to section 151(2A) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, which requires Council to appoint a RAP applicant as a RAP over that part of its RAP application area that lies within the boundaries of its RSA area.
Supreme Court Decision
On Tuesday 12 February, Justice Bell of the Supreme Court of Victoria upheld Council’s registration of the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BLCAC).
In its decision-making role, the Council is required to adhere to the provisions of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the requirements of administrative law. Its decisions are subject to review in the Supreme Court, ensuring accountability in affording due process to RAP applicants and other parties.
On 19 July 2017 Council appointed BLCAC as a RAP over an area of Victoria to the south-east of metropolitan Melbourne. BLCAC’s RAP appointment area is bordered by Port Phillip Bay to the west, Leongatha to the east, Warragul to the north, and Victoria’s coastline to the south. Carolyn Briggs and the Boon Wurrung Foundation Ltd (BWFL) sought a review by the Supreme Court of the Council decision to appoint Bunurong as a RAP in October 2017.
The matter, heard by Justice Bell on 27 September 2018, is only the second review of a decision of the Council. A key issue in the proceeding was whether the Council was correct in finding that BLCAC was a body representing the Traditional Owners of the area it was appointed for.
Justice Bell noted that, throughout its consideration of the applications of BWFL and BLCAC, Council had “emphasised the importance of recognising as a RAP a single organisation capable of representing, and effectively representing in fact, all Bunurong people and Traditional Owners.” In its decision making, Justice Bell considered that Council’s approach to “resolve the many complex and highly sensitive issues raised” had been “cautious and gradual”.
The decision validated Council’s application of an inclusionary policy framework and consideration of issues relating to traditional knowledge and responsibility as well as apical ancestry, amongst other factors.
Repatriation of secret or sacred objects
Handover Ceremony between the University of Melbourne and the Pintupi People of Central Australia
On 9 May, the University of Melbourne formally returned secret or sacred objects to the Pintupi people of Central Australia. These significant cultural items had been held by the University as part of the extensive Donald Thomson collection.
The objects were repatriated under section 23(a) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Under this section of the Act, a Traditional Owner of a secret or sacred object held or controlled by a university, museum or other institution may negotiate directly with that institution for the repatriation of objects.
As with all repatriations, the handover was the culmination of years of discussions and hard work.
When Traditional Owners work directly with institutions, Council’s role in the repatriation of the secret or sacred objects is one of support, recognition and providing advice.
Central to all processes of repatriation is the development of strong and enduring relationships between the Traditional Owners and the temporary custodians of their cultural heritage.
Council is pleased to have been able to develop and strengthen their own relationships with both the University of Melbourne and the Pintupi peoples to aid future repatriation work.
Council member Jim Berg attended the ceremony with staff from Council’s Ancestral Remains Unit.
RAP Snapshot - Barengi Gadjin Land Council
Conservation Works at the Ebenezer Mission
The Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) Board, staff and members are extremely pleased that urgently required works are being undertaken at Ebenezer Mission to help conserve this hugely significant cultural place for the Wotjobaluk Peoples and all Victorians.
Ebenezer Mission was established in 1859 by the Moravian Church, a German Lutheran religious group, on the site of an important ceremonial and residential place known as Bunyo budnutt, located on a bend on the Barringgi Gadyin (Wimmera River). This place had been used by the Wotjobaluk, Jadawadjali, Wergaia, Jaadwa and Jupagulk Peoples (peoples of the Wotjobaluk Nations) and their neighbours for tens of thousands of years. It was these peoples who were moved on to the mission and whose descendants are represented by the BGLC.
The Wotjobaluk Peoples created a productive farm at the complex, which became home to hundreds of Aboriginal people in its 45-year history. The mission was officially closed in 1904, and the mission residents moved to the already established fringe camp at the near-by town of Antwerp or the fringe camp established later at Dimboola, while others were relocated to Lake Tyers.
The Ebenezer Mission Complex is significant to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It is recognised for its intactness (the church, toilet and dormitory blocks are the oldest surviving examples in the state) and its cemetery of graves of Aboriginal people and Moravian missionaries.
Small and medium sized archaeological excavations, as well as conservation and maintenance works, have previously been undertaken at the site to ensure the existing structures are secure and to understand more about the site and its history. Prior to the handover in 2013 of the portion of the mission complex owned by the National Trust to BGLC, both organisations sponsored conservation works on the surviving headstones at the cemetery. Successful applications to rounds 2 and 3 of the Living Heritage Grants Program has enabled development of a comprehensive condition report and funding of $200,000 towards conservation works about to commence.
These works are priority conservation works, including the rectification of moisture penetration, roof works, repair of drainage and storm-water disposal system and structural and render repair to the church, dormitory, kitchen and toilet block buildings.
We are the broader community’s link to Traditional Owners, and work with our stakeholders to promote the cultural wellbeing of our members, through our efforts to reconnect them to Country.
Our Country includes Horsham, the ‘capital of the Wimmera’, as well as many other key towns and includes eight Local Government Authorities. Our RAP area is 35,896 km2 covering 15.2% of Victoria.
International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019
To celebrate the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Council presented a panel discussion, Language as Ownership, on 30 April. The event was co-presented with Museums Victoria and the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and was held at the Museum Theatre, Melbourne Museum to great acclaim by the almost 100 people attending.
Introduced by Geraldine Atkinson, the discussion was moderated by Maddison Miller and the panelists were Harley Dunnolly-Lee, Darren Griffin, Isobel Morphy-Walsh, Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker and Elly Patira.
The panel members discussed how colonisers have used language to create ownership and how Aboriginal people are using those systems to reclaim it. They explored what part language plays in Aboriginal self-determination and how it functions within the context of imposed and subverted power dynamics.
The event was booked out, with audience members loving the “thought provoking and engaging event". The panel of guest speakers were praised as "wonderfully knowledgeable and expressive, to the point where several members of the audience had tears in their eyes from the passionate words of Isobel Murphy Walsh.”
The event was filmed and will be made available through Council’s website.
Our Languages Matter
Also part of the International year of Indigenous Languages, Council’s place naming workshops, Our Languages Matter, have been presented at the United Nations in New York. Project partner, the Office of Geographic Names, addressed the United Nations recently as part of the Australian delegation at the biennial UN meeting on geographic place names.
Delegates from more than 100 nations attended. There was praise for the project’s engagement with Victoria's Traditional Owners and the promotion of the use of Indigenous languages, with information about the project then provided to representatives from Oman, Jamaica, France, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the United States, Saudi Arabia and others.
Stakeholder Snapshot - National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
On 17 August 2011 the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) (National Trust) Board adopted a Statement of Commitment to ‘respecting the culture and heritage of the First Australians’, followed by the adoption of the first of three Reconciliation Action Plans in 2012. From this foundation, it has achieved:
- establishment of an Aboriginal Advisory Committee to the Board, including the appointment of Ian Hamm as the Committee Chair and a Director on the National Trust Board
- ongoing Cultural Awareness Training undertaken by the Board, staff and volunteers
- Traditional Owner Acknowledgement plaques at National Trust properties
- handing back of the Ebenezer Mission to the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation after 45 years of National Trust custodianship
- preparation and implementation of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessments for National Trust properties as part of the Reconciliation through Place report.
Council has been working with the National Trust since 2012 when they co-presented the National Trust Heritage Festival. In 2013 and 2014, the organisations again partnered to host the Our History – Koorie Cultural Heritage Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow workshops to promote cultural heritage.
Currently, the National Trust is undertaking several key projects underpinned by its responsibility to acknowledge and promote all heritage at their sites.
The McCrae Homestead Cultural Heritage Experience is an education program for primary schools, developed to communicate what life may have been like at McCrae Homestead in the 1840s - from the perspectives of both the Traditional Owners and the early colonial settler family. The program builds on research and was developed in partnership with the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
Another project currently underway is the preparation of an Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment of National Trust property, the Old Melbourne Gaol. The priority of this project is to actively involve Traditional Owner groups in discussing and interpreting the significance of the site. The draft report provides context for the incarceration of Aboriginal people at the Gaol from 1842 up until the late 1860s and has been prepared to assist in the development of interpretation for the site.
About the National Trust
We actively protect and conserve places of heritage significance for future generations to enjoy.
Since 1956 the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has been actively conserving and protecting heritage for future generations to enjoy. They are an independent non-profit charity organisation and the leading operator of house museums and heritage properties in the state.
Since its inception, a guiding principle of Council has been that we stand united in our decision making. We have worked hard, we have embraced challenges as opportunities, and we have done so for the collective protection of our irreplaceable heritage. This year we mark the 100th meeting of Council as a milestone of self-determination in Victoria. Considered with our 10 year celebration in early 2017, we reflect on the progress and achievement of the Council over 10 years and 100 meetings.
The social and political environment in which we work has changed significantly, from formation amid the land justice fight around federal native title determinations, through seeing the creation of the Traditional Owners Settlement Act 2010, to the passing of the Treaty Bill in the Victorian Parliament in late June 2018. We all have an opportunity to learn from the past and, through the prism of self-determination, there can be a new paradigm for negotiations. The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council strongly supports the ongoing engagement and discussion within the Aboriginal community about Treaty and encourage all Victorians to engage with this long overdue initiative.
At our September 2017 community engagement event in Bendigo, Council launched its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. Supported by the Victorian Government’s commitment to self-determination for Victorian Aboriginal people, this plan sets in place our vision and objectives underpinned by Council’s transition to a more autonomous entity. The Plan guides Council’s work with its key stakeholders to strengthen knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal cultures throughout Victoria. Working towards this, Council partnered with Geographic Names Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages this year to deliver Our Languages Matter – Aboriginal Place Naming in Victoria. These workshops aim to promote a deeper understanding of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in the wider community and provide a positive environment for discussion about geographic place naming in local Aboriginal language – a subject that is so important to Aboriginal Victorians.
Fundamental to our work is promotion of the primacy of Traditional Owner responsibilities and ownership, be it on a local, national or international level. In April and May this year, Council participated in meetings of both the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand, and of the tri-state Aboriginal Heritage Councils and Committees. For the first time, Aboriginal Heritage organisations were asked to participate in the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand meeting, allowing Aboriginal people to speak for their own heritage. On a more targeted level, hosting a meeting with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council and the South Australian State Aboriginal Heritage Committee was a valuable way to collaborate and share knowledge about how we protect, manage and support Traditional Owners to speak for Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Council’s annual election of the Chair and Deputy Chair roles was held in June 2018. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that the significant work reported here has been undertaken under our former Chairperson, Aunt Eleanor Bourke, and thank both her and Deputy Chairperson Tim Chatfield for their commitment and tireless contribution to Council. I am honoured to again take up the position of Chairperson and warmly welcome Sissy Pettit Havea to the role of Deputy Chairperson.
In closing, I would like us all to reflect upon our Ancestors and those that are not at rest. The Council’s Bringing our Ancestors Home – recommendations for change paper 2014 still requires our attention. In the words of Council member Aunt Eleanor Bourke, “We will not be well until this is done”
Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council Members
Rodney Carter - Chairperson
Sissy Pettit Havea - Deputy Chairperson
Eleanor A Bourke
Jill Gallagher AO (resigned February 2018)
Working with Stakeholders
A fundamental function of Council is to promote public awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. Council recognises the need for more conversations with communities, organisations and government departments to realise its vision of a community that respects and understands Aboriginal cultural heritage and the cultural responsibilities of Traditional Owners.
As the first independent statutory body of Traditional Owners in Victoria, Council’s expertise continues to be sought to increase community understanding of and engagement with Traditional Owners. The Council has engaged with stakeholders through participation on external reference groups, consultation, conferences, workshops and review processes.
Committees and Steering Groups
- Aboriginal Victoria Governance and Sector Support Reference Group
- Aboriginal Victoria Treaty Interim Working Group
- Aboriginal Victoria Certificate IV in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Reference Group
- Heritage Chairs and Officials Of Australia And New Zealand Meeting
- Parks Estate Cultural Heritage Management Plan Group
- Right People for Country Steering Committee
- Shared Values Project Joint Working Group with The Heritage Council of Victoria
- State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) Stakeholder Reference Committee
- The University of Melbourne and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Oversight Committee
- Victorian Aboriginal Local Government Action Plan Implementation Partnership Group
- Victorian Climate Change Advisory Panel
- Victorian Environmental Assessment Council Historic Places Community Reference Group
- Victorian Aboriginal Local Government Action Plan Group
- Ancestral Remains Strategic Framework Joint Group with Aboriginal Victoria
Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand
In May 2018, representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage organisations joined the annual meeting of the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand and, for the first time, were invited to become permanent members of the forum. Our involvement at this time is significant as Victoria remains the only state with a truly independent Traditional Owner decision making body with statutory functions for the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage. We were able to provide guidance and demonstrate the importance of a peak body with such functions, like the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, to other states and territories.
Targeted Consultation with Stakeholders
To develop deeper relationships with our stakeholders, we engaged with:
- Aboriginal Victoria
- Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations
- First Nations Legal and Research Service
- Heritage Council of Victoria
- Museums Repatriation, Collections and Cultural Heritage Branch from the Federal Department of Communications and the Arts
- Office of Environment and Heritage NSW
- Parks Victoria
- Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs)
- Secretary of the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning
- South Australian State Aboriginal Heritage Committee
- Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Council
- The University of Melbourne
- Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
- Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission.
Conferences and Workshops
We engaged with a range of audiences about our unique role and work at conferences and workshops including:
- Australian Cultural Heritage Management workshops at La Trobe University and Kerang Valley Resort
- Meeting of the NSW Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee and Office of the Environment and Heritage
- National Native Title Conference presentation Self-determination through collaboration: The Victorian experience
- National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-2019 launch
- Open Minds Lecture Series, Geelong Library & Heritage Centre Are Australia’s First People the Foundation to Our National Identity?
- Our Languages Matter: Aboriginal Place Naming in Victoria workshops with Geographic Names Victoria in Hamilton, Bendigo, Traralgon and Healesville
- Presentations at RAP Forums in November 2017 and May 2018
- Review of the Traditional Owner Settlement Threshold Statement Guidelines
- The National Museums Repatriation Conference.
Policy, Strategy and Legislative Reviews
Influencing the development of policy, strategy and legislative review we provided advice to:
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Draft Victorian Rural Drainage Strategy
- Draft Pilot Water Sector Climate Change Adaption Action Plan
- Emergency Management Victoria’s Victorian Fire Management Strategy-Research concept paper
- Extension of the Order in Council for the management of wild dogs in Victoria
- Governance of the Great Ocean Road Region Issues Paper
- Independent Review of the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 ‘Threshold Stage’
- Input into the Charles Stuart University Biocultural Knowledge Project
- Regulatory Impact Statement for the review of Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2007
- Review of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003
- State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) and Policy Impact Statement
- The Belfast Coastal Reserve Draft Coastal Management Plan
- Victorian Aboriginal Local Government Action Plan
- Victorian Fisheries Authority’s Draft Freshwater Fisheries Management Plan
- Victoria’s Climate Change Framework - Adaptation Plan - Independent Expert Panel Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria (2021-2030).
Our Languages Matter - Aboriginal Place Naming in Victoria
Throughout 2018 Council hosted a series of workshops on the importance of place naming in Aboriginal language. The aim of the workshops was to promote a deeper understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the wider community through strengthened relationships amongst those with place naming responsibilities. Council hosted the workshops with Geographic Names Victoria and partnered with both the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages and RAPs to discuss language and Traditional Owner responsibilities for culture and knowledge.
The program has been successful in starting conversations between RAPs, local government, statutory authorities and the wider community about how we respect Aboriginal cultural heritage through the naming of places. In 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will continue to facilitate engagement to raise awareness and promote understanding of the importance of language.
Working with partners to improve the Victorian community’s understanding and awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage and the responsibilities of Traditional Owners is central to our purpose.
In September 2017 we met with regional stakeholders in Bendigo to launch Council’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021. Presented with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, the meeting enabled us to share our work and future vision with stakeholders.
Our June 2018 community engagement event in Lorne helped us start new conversations with regional stakeholders. A number of groups and organisations joined us, for the first time, to discuss Council’s role and how we can work with other statutory authorities, local government offices, emergency management personnel and the broader community.
National and International Stakeholders
Our participation in the annual meeting of the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand meeting reflects not only the importance of Council in being the only state or territory to have a truly independent Traditional Owner decision making body, but the broader national and international move to engage directly with Traditional Owners.
Closer to home, Council hosted a tri-state meeting with our colleagues in Tasmania and South Australia, supporting our commitment to forge strong working relationships with Traditional Owners across the country.
In 2018, staff from the Office of Council attended a meeting with National Museum of Australia staff to discuss the management of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains in Victoria. No other state currently has the same Traditional Owner led policy approach as Victoria in this. We encourage other state authorities to also give the responsibility of managing Ancestors to their Traditional Owners.
As a Council of Traditional Owners, working with and for community is central to Council’s work. The Council undertakes a range of legislated functions for Traditional Owners and to more broadly promote public awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. Our awareness raising is undertaken in a range of ways including comprehensive engagement with stakeholders, submissions to legislative development or review and participation in the projects detailed throughout this report.
The Ancestral Remains Unit continues to support the Council with reports and transfers of Ancestral Remains and secret or sacred objects with a view to repatriation. In the near future, Council hopes to manage an independent facility where the core work we undertake regarding Ancestors and secret or sacred objects can take place respectfully.
Council continues to manage the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund. Currently much of the Fund, generated by fees paid to the Secretary of the Department of Cabinet and Council under the Act, is dedicated to supporting Registered Aboriginal Party operations with an annual contribution currently set at $800,000. To ensure a transparent, robust and effective fund, Council continues to develop procedures and policies to ensure its appropriate management.
Working with Registered Aboriginal Parties
Registered Aboriginal Parties are organisations with decision-making responsibilities, under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in a specified geographical area.
These responsibilities relate to the management of Aboriginal cultural heritage, including:
- acting as a primary source of advice and knowledge for the community, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Planning, Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Council on matters relating to their Country
- undertaking functions relating to cultural heritage permits
- evaluating cultural heritage management plans and entering into cultural heritage agreements
- applying for interim and ongoing heritage protection declarations
- functions relating to Aboriginal heritage tests, Aboriginal cultural heritage land management agreements and Aboriginal intangible heritage agreements
- reporting annually to Council
- nominating information about Aboriginal cultural heritage to be restricted on the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register.
Council continues to work in strengthening its relationship with RAPs. It has recently appointed a RAP Support Officer to act as central liaison and support person. Council is engaging with RAPs to ensure their new responsibilities to provide an annual report to Council is neither duplicitous nor burdensome.
A fundamental responsibility of Council is to determine applications for the registration of RAPs. In this reporting period, Council received two applications, made six decisions to decline applications in part or whole, appointed two RAPs for a part of their application areas and varied the boundaries of two others.
At 31 July 2018, Council had appointed 11 RAPS which collectively cover 62.6% of the state:
- Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
- Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
- Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
- Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation
- Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation
- Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
- Martang Pty. Ltd. Aboriginal Corporation
- Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
- Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation
- Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc.
- Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation.
Right People for Country - Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation
On 21 March 2018, Council appointed Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (Taungurung) for a small part of its RAP application area along the Great Dividing Range. This was done in accordance with an agreement reached between Taungurung and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, supported by the Right People for Country Program.
Council’s publication of Guidelines for RAPs in notifying Council of agreement making, enables us to progress decisions in a more efficient way by ensuring that agreements are compliant with the relevant legal framework. Council encourages all Traditional Owner organisations to continue to be proactive and to explore negotiation and conciliation options available to them. We understand the complexities and challenges faced by Traditional Owner groups needing to resolve competing claims, and strongly encourage them to meet and find solutions.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
We are the broader community’s link to Traditional Owners, and work with our stakeholders to promote the cultural wellbeing of our members, through our efforts to reconnect them to Country.
Our Country includes Horsham, the ‘capital of the Wimmera’, as well as many other key towns and includes eight Local Government Authorities. Our RAP area is 35,896 km2 covering 15.2% of Victoria.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BGLC) represents Traditional Owners of the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples (collectively Wotjobaluk), recognised in a 2005 Native Title Consent Determination, the first in south-eastern Australia.
Our Vision is for BGLC to represent our Traditional Owners to generate, protect and improve our Country & Culture.
We value Collaboration, Creativity, Inclusiveness, Sustainability, Respect, Self-determination, Professionalism & Transparency.
We are the Prescribed Body Corporate for the Wotjobaluk claim area, as outlined in the Native Title Act, giving us legal authority and obligation to work on behalf of Traditional Owners.
As well as working to protect and restore Country through Natural Resource Management services we support the training and development of Traditional Owners to build economic and sustainable outcomes.
BGLC directly engages with Departments, agencies and other organisations to facilitate respect for and recognition of Native Title and Traditional Owner rights and interests.
Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
The sands hold the footprints of our Ancestors - walking the same paths as your Ancestors is what gets you connection with country.
Our Country includes the Mornington Peninsula, Point Nepean, and French, Churchill and Phillip Islands. Towns in our RAP area include Frankston, Inverloch, Wonthaggi, Leongatha and Lang Lang.
Our relationships include seven Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 5439 km2 (of which 1770 km2 is coastal waters) covers 2.3% of Victoria.
The Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation is a large and inclusive organisation that represents Bunurong/Boon Wurrung people, their culture and heritage. We provide a unified voice for our members and support our people’s cultural goals and aspirations.
Over the last 35,000 years our people have adapted to a range of significant changes within their Country, such as asteroid impacts near Cranbourne and Arthurs Seat once being an Island.
We continue to adapt today, reaching high levels of corporate governance and expanding our enterprises.
We work with schools, universities, Government, Shire Councils, developers, archaeologists, friends groups, artists, filmmakers, the local community and others in a range of ways to ultimately protect and promote Bunurong/Boon Wurrung culture and heritage.
Our services include: assessment of Cultural Heritage Management Plans; specialist and timely cultural advice regarding the protection and management of our heritage and Country; and Welcomes, Smoking ceremonies.
Continuing to develop initiatives to realise our aspirations is important in getting our people back out on Country, caring for and connecting with their land, as our ancestors have done before us.
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
The strength, and wisdom of our Ancestors has enabled us to walk in their footsteps towards our own healing, and walk the path of healing our Country.
Our Country in central Victoria includes the major towns of Bendigo, Castlemaine, Daylesford, Maryborough and St Arnaud.
Our relationships include 12 Local Government Authorities and public land managers integral to our RAP area of 17,369 km² that covers 7.32% of Victoria.
We recognise the importance of our cultural heritage – our Dja Dja Wurrung places and landscapes, our stories and language, our customs, ceremonies and continued traditional practices and our responsibilities for looking after Country.
Our aspiration is that every Dja Dja Wurrung person is happy, healthy and secure in their identity, livelihood and lifestyle.
Our Vision is for the health and wellbeing of our people to be strong, and guided by our living culture.
Our Vision is for our lands and waters to be in good condition and actively managed to protect our values and to promote the lore, culture and rights of all Dja Dja Wurrung people.
As this Country’s First People, our vision includes being politically empowered with an established place in society, and being capable of managing our own affairs from a strong and diverse social and Traditional Owner economic base.
We conduct works in cultural heritage, environmental services and supporting regional investment in Central Victoria, including heritage advisors; cultural heritage assessments, education and protection works; traditional ecological knowledge gathering and cultural activities; Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies; corporate and community cultural awareness workshops and on Country activities; site inspection and surveys; and the development of interpretative signage from content, design to install.
Environmental services include restoration and regeneration of landscapes; establishment of biodiversity corridors; landscaping and maintenance activities; fencing; environmental management plans; managing the impact of feral animals and pest plants; weed control; and expert environmental consultancy.
Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation
We must always acknowledge the Eastern Maar Elders and citizens who worked tirelessly for generations for recognition of Eastern Maar and our clans.
Our Country includes the major towns of Broadwater, Codrington and Tyrendarra East.
Our relationships include two Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 1,298 km2 covers 0.55% of Victoria.
The Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC) is a Registered Native Title Body Corporate registered under the Corporation (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006. EMAC manages and represents the native title rights and interests of the Eastern Maar People, who are the Traditional Owners of the eastern domain of the Maar Nation.
The Eastern Maar Traditional Owner Group is a name adopted by the people who identify as Maar, Eastern Gunditjmara, Tjap Wurrung, Peek Whurrong, Kirrae Whurrung, Kuurn Kopan Noot, Yarro waetch (Tooram Tribe), Gulidjan and/or Gadubanud amongst other names.
Through Meerreengeyye ngakeepoorryeeyt - our Country Plan - we have defined our vision for the future. To help us on the path to achieving our vision, we have identified six goals that will form the focus of our effort:
- Wellbeing of our citizens
- Active youth
- Strong identity
- Healthy Country
- Cultural strength
For each of our goals, we have a number of objectives that we will work towards - as individuals, as a nation and in partnership with others. These goals are underpinned by the law of the land, our moral authority that dictates how we live and behave, who we interact with and how we will always care for our Country.
Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation
We must not forget that we stand on the shoulders of our Elders who paved the way and took up the fight, challenged the authorities of old and sacrificed so much to bring us to this point in time.
Our Country includes the major towns of Morwell, Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Sale, Maffra and Lakes Entrance.
Our relationships include seven Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 25,818 km2 covers 10.87% of Victoria.
Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) represents Traditional Owners from the Brataualung, Brayakaulung, Brabralung, Krauatungalung and Tatungalung family clans, who were recognised in the Native Title Consent Determination on 22 October 2010. On the same day, the State entered into an agreement with the Gunaikurnai under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. GLaWAC is also the Registered Aboriginal Party for the Gunaikurnai native title determination area.
Our role is to further the aspirations of the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners and Native Title Holders through the implementation of the Gunaikurnai native title settlement agreements and the provision of high quality policy advice; to provide strategic leadership by developing and leading key initiatives; and to continuously improve the capacity, integrity and independence of the Gunaikurnai.
Our Vision is of Gunaikurnai - United, Proud and Strong.
Our Values are respect, encourage, service, persistence, empathy, courage and teamwork.
Our services include Welcome to Country; protecting, promoting and preserving Gunaikurnai cultural heritage; doing cultural heritage assessments; participating in the preparation of Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) and evaluating CHMPs written by other Cultural Heritage Advisors; advising and negotiating on the repatriation of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage to Country; cultural strengthening, awareness and protection services; ensuring the protection, preservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use of our Country; research, collection and use of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge; and, natural resource management via GLaWAC’s subsidiary, Gunaikurnai Enterprise.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
The Budj Bim cultural landscape bears exceptional testimony to the knowledge and ingenuity of Gunditijmara people in the creation of an aquaculture system that has endured for at least 6,600 years.
Our Country includes Budj Bim and Tae Rak (Lake Condah), and the towns of Portland, Heywood, Casterton and Hamilton.
Our relationships include four Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 25,818 km2 covers 5.87% of Victoria.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (Gunditj Mirring) was established in 2005 by Gunditjmara Traditional Owners to progress our rights and interests in native title, cultural heritage and caring for Country.
Through Gunditj Mirring, Gunditjmara people ensure that the responsibilities and duties which arise under Gunditjmara law, custom and beliefs are carried out in relation to caring for Country and the protection and continuation of Gunditjmara law and culture.
Gunditj Mirring is responsible for delivering its statutory services in native title and cultural heritage, including assessment of Cultural Heritage Management Plans; protection and management of Country; and specialist cultural advice.
On behalf of the Gunditjmara community, the corporation owns and manages culturally significant properties along the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape including Lake Condah, the Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission site, Kurtonitj and Lake Gorrie. We also manage three Indigenous Protected Areas.
The corporation also engages with the broader community through the Budj Bim Sustainable Development Partnership, the Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Project and the Indigenous Protected Area program.
Martang Pty. Ltd.
The identification, preservation and protection (management) of Aboriginal culture is fundamental to the rights and responsibilities of Traditional Owners, which are enshrined in State, National and International legislation, policies and conventions on the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Our Country runs along the Grampians National Park and stretches from Mortlake to east of Stawell.
Our relationships include four Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 4,477 km2 covers 1.89% of Victoria.
PO Box 20
Halls Gap VIC 3381
Phone: (03) 5356 6188
Martang Pty. Ltd. was established 1999, with a membership base of 70 Djab Wurrung people, in recognition of the cultural significance and attachment of our Community to the Gariwerd region. Its Mission is to build a long term, sustainable Community, based around developing tailored and specific social, economic and cultural programs and projects.
The Community operates in an environment with a degree of disadvantage given the area’s remoteness and isolation and the lack of access to mainstream programs.
However, Martang has as its ultimate goals to develop amongst the Community members a sense of:
- Self Esteem
- Cultural Pride, Recognition and Respect (as steps towards Reconciliation)
- Achievement and Sustainability
- Identity, maintaining and continuing to practice our cultural rights on Djabwurrung country.
Our services include: assessment of Cultural Heritage Management Plans; protection and management of Country; Welcomes to Country; and specialist cultural advice.
Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
Our Ancestors would be very proud that we have survived to be able to stand here today on land that we, as Taungurung people, actually own.
Our Country encompasses the area between the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and its tributaries north of the Dividing Range. From the Campaspe River in the west, eastwards to the Great Dividing Range, the Ovens River in the north and south to the top of the Great Dividing Range.
Our relationships include 12 Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 14,511 km2 covers 6.11% of Victoria.
Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation represents the interests of the 15 different clan groups of Taungurung; Budhera-Bulok, Leuk- Yilam, Mum-Mum-Yilam, Naterrak-Bulok, Nira-Bulok, Waring-Yilam-Bulok, Yaran-Yilam- Bulok, Yiran-Yilam-Bulok, Yawang-Yilam-Bulok, Benbendore-Balluk, Gunung-Yellam, Ngurai- Ilaam-Balluk, Tenbringnellams, Walledriggers, and Warrinillum — and aims to promote cultural awareness and recognition of the continuity of the traditional people on Taungurung lands.
Our services include Welcome to Country; Smoking Ceremonies; Natural Resource Management, native garden services (planning, consulting and landscaping); and archaeological services.
Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation
As traditional owners and custodians of Wadawurrung land we are committed to working together to provide a secure future for our community by upholding the dignity of our ancestors, respecting our Elders and others, and instilling a sense of cultural pride and belonging in our children and our children’s children.
Our Country encompasses Geelong, Ballarat, part of Werribee, Anglesea, Skipton and Queenscliff.
Our relationships include 11 Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 10,615 km2 covers 4.47% of Victoria.
Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation (WAC), trading as Wadawurrung, is the Registered Aboriginal Party for Wadawurrung country. WAC has a statutory role in the management of Aboriginal heritage values and culture within our region, under the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
Wadawurrung is comprised of three cohesive units; office staff, field staff and Board Members/Directors.
Our services include Cultural Heritage Assessments; Cultural Heritage Management Plan related business; coordinating field staff for ground works; organising meetings between sponsors and the RAP; construction methodology; liaising with Government Departments on behalf of Developers; negotiating public open space requirements; permit applications; providing statutory advice on legislative requirements for Local Government; Cultural Heritage Agreements; Land Management Consultancy with Catchment Authorities and Local Government Departments; Salvage and Repatriation of Ancestral Remains and Artefacts; Advice on the Preservation of Aboriginal Culture; Cultural Heritage Awareness; inductions; Development and Delivery of Education Programs; Review of literary works for accuracy; Welcome to Country; Smoking Ceremony; Cultural Heritage ‘Walk and Talks’ on Country; Indigenous Community Gardens; liaising with Community Groups to incorporate Aboriginal values into projects; Representing our Members to other organisations; Interpretation of Heritage Values; and Place Names and Traditional Wording.
Wurundjeru Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc.
The natural world is also a cultural world; therefore the Wurundjeri people have a special interest in preserving not just our cultural objects, but the natural landscapes of cultural importance.
Our Country encompasses Tullamarine, Sunbury, Wallan, Heidelberg, Healesville and Warbuton.
Our relationships include 24 Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 6,102 km2 covers 2.57% of Victoria.
1st Floor Providence Building
1 St. Heliers Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067
Phone: (03) 9416 2905
The Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council Incorporated was established in the 1980s by the direct descendants of the Wurundjeri people. We advocate for and support the aspirations of our community.
Wurundjeri is a Registered Aboriginal Party of a geographically diverse region that includes both urban and rural lands as well as waterways (fresh water and estuarine).
Our services include Due Diligence Assessments; assessment of Cultural Heritage Management Plans and Cultural Heritage Permits; Cultural Heritage and Interpretation; Cultural Values Recordings; Natural Resource Management; Cross-cultural Training and Education; Wurundjeri Heritage Projects; protection, management and enhancement of environmentally and culturally significant places on Wurundjeri Country; range of cultural services such as Welcomes, Smoking ceremonies, dance and music performances, gifts for exchange and commissioned arts works; language and naming services; and cultural consultancy.
Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
It’s time to bring our language out and ensure that the next generation have the opportunity to know their language, speak their language and grow with their language.
Our Country lies on both sides of the Murray River roughly from Cohuna to Albury/Wodonga. It includes the towns of Echuca, Shepparton, Benalla, Corowa and Wangaratta and extends northwards to just south of Deniliquin.
Our relationships include eight Local Government Authorities as our RAP area of 13,199 km2 covers 5.56% of Victoria.
The Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC) is comprised of peoples with undeniable bloodlines to the Original Ancestors of the Land of the Yorta Yorta Nation. These bloodlines link Yorta Yorta peoples’ past, present and future to one another, with traditional laws, customs, beliefs and sovereignty intact.
YYNAC was established, amongst other objectives, to represent the members of the Family Groups who are descendants of the Original Ancestors of the Yorta Yorta Peoples; to make decisions and act on any matters of significance to the Yorta Yorta Peoples; and to enter into agreements with any person, Government agency or authority in relation to the protection of Yorta Yorta Country.
YYNAC’s owned and operated enterprise, Woka Walla, provides meaningful employment and training for Yorta Yorta and other Aboriginal people in working and caring for all aspects of Yorta Yorta lands, water, cultural heritage and the environment.
In March 2001, YYNAC established Yenbena, an Indigenous Training Centre, to provide targeted and culturally appropriate training to Indigenous young people.
On 29 October 2010, YYNAC entered into a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement with the state of Victoria for the joint management of Barmah National Park through the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board.
Our services include assessment of Cultural Heritage Management Plans; protection, management and enhancement of Country; Welcomes, Smoking ceremonies, dance and music performances; cross cultural educational incursions and excursions; and specialist cultural advice.
Working with Government
As an independent statutory body with legislated functions under the Act, Council works closely with the government to ensure that Registered Aboriginal Parties have the capacity to fulfil their statutory responsibilities, and Aboriginal cultural heritage across Victoria is protected.
Council advises the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Planning and the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on legislative responsibilities relating to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Victoria.
Central to this advisory role is the cultural heritage significance of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains, Aboriginal places and objects and subsequent measures for their effective protection and management. Promotion of the role of Aboriginal people in the protection and management of their cultural heritage underpins this advice as does respect for Traditional Owners and their cultural ownership.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs regularly seeks Councils advice regarding the appointment of Authorised Officers and Aboriginal Heritage Officers. Council may also provide advice regarding the protection of Ancestors, places and objects through protection declarations, cultural heritage management plans, audits and permits and, in certain circumstances, also through compulsory land acquisition.
Council ensures integrity and transparency through the availability of its decisions and management. The Strategic Plan 2017-2021 was launched in September 2017 to provide a framework for Council to undertake its new responsibilities under the 2016 revisions to the Act. This, with other key strategic documents, reports and guides, is available on our website. Answering community enquiries and responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 ensures a direct line of communication with us on our decisions and processes.
Whilst Council moves towards autonomy and is planning for the associated requisite structure changes, Council’s obligations under the Financial Management Act 1994 are discharged by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Council continues to adhere the requirements of the Public Administration Act 2004 in the disbursement of its duties and responsibilities.
Respecting our Ancestors
The underlying principle of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 is that all Ancestral Remains should be owned by and returned to Traditional Owners. Council performs this function through the continuing work of its Ancestral Remains Unit and by decisions made through its Ancestral Remains Advisory Committee.
The Council is the central authority for receiving and managing all reports, transfers and repatriations of Ancestral Remains in Victoria. Where the Traditional Owners are readily identifiable, these Ancestors can be quickly returned. Where the provenance is unknown, Council provides safekeeping at Museums Victoria while we work on understanding provenance and getting these Ancestors home as quickly as possible.
31 July 2018 was the deadline for universities and public entities to notify and report to Council any Ancestral Remains in their possession. We were proactive in the preceding 12 months, engaging
with government departments and agencies, and universities to advise them of their obligations under the Act.
As Museums Victoria had been the custodian of the largest group of Ancestors, earlier this year the Museums Board of Victoria and Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support our ongoing relationship. The Memorandum recognises both our central role in managing and returning Ancestors and that Ancestors at Museums Victoria are now in the legal custody of the Council as we work to provenance and return these Ancestors to Country.
Supporting Repatriation of Lake Mungo Ancestors
As caretakers of Ancestors from across Australia, whilst in Victoria, their safe return to Country is something Council supports all Traditional Owners in achieving. Council were pleased to accept the invitation to participate in the start of the process of healing and closure, marked by the return of the Lake Mungo Ancestors taken by scientists more than 40 years ago. Council members Nellie Flagg, Mick Harding and Sissy Pettit Havea attended the ceremony with First Nations peoples from around Australia.
How We Communicate
With the release of our Strategic Plan 2017-2021, and anniversaries of our 10th year and 100th meeting, we have been reflecting on our journey. Part of this consideration has been looking to our future and how we communicate with our stakeholders. Building on the strong foundation of personal interaction we have with stakeholders, we have launched our website www.aboriginalheritagecouncil.vic.gov.au and developed a new logo to better visually identify who we are.
Council’s new logo depicts four shields imposed over the outline of the State of Victoria. The shields represent supporting, respecting and celebrating our land, culture and life. The colours of the shields represent the four environments that make up our Country – gold and ochre represent desert sands and dry country, green for the forests and grasslands, blue for the waters, rivers and lakes and purple represents our Countries in the metropolitan regions as well as in the basaltic and volcanic plains.
My Message to Young Koories of Victoria
Young Koorie of this Land now called Australia,
You are the Custodians, Educators
Oldest Continuous and Resilient Culture in the World.
Culture, Language, Identity, Spirituality, Dignity and Pride.
Be proud of who you are.
May the Spirits of my Ancestors be with you
Your life Journeys.
Since the first meeting of Council on 18 October 2006, it has developed robust strategic documents to guide its work.
Through strategic plans, annual reports, magazines and publications, Council communicates with stakeholders on its direction, issues and the state of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
10 Year Anniversary
Aboriginal peoples of Victoria have fought for generations for recognition of their unique relationship with and custodianship of their lands. In May 2017, Council celebrated the anniversaries of two key milestones in the fight for Aboriginal recognition and self-determination.
On 27 May 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to include Aboriginal peoples in the census and to allow the Commonwealth to create laws for/about Aboriginal peoples.
On 28 May, the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 came into effect. The Act created the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, the first statutory body in Victoria whose members must be Traditional Owners.
The Council’s journey over these ten years has been challenging at times:
- the Council was one of the subjects of a Parliamentary Inquiry undertaken by the previous Victorian Government in 2013
- the Act was reviewed between 2012 and 2016
- there was a judicial review of one of Council’s decisions in the Supreme Court.
Through these events, the Council’s integrity and sound decision making were affirmed. The Parliamentary Inquiry produced a positive report on the Council’s work. Amendments to the Act passed in 2016 gave the Council more responsibilities. And the judicial decision upheld the Council’s decision, endorsed the Council’s decision-making processes, and ordered costs in favour of the Council.
The Council’s work has also been significantly rewarding. Aboriginal cultural heritage is now managed by Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) in more than fifty per cent of the state. We have a dedicated unit working for the return and protection of our Ancestors’ remains. And we are seeing greater recognition of Traditional Owners and their roles with respect to cultural heritage management.
These milestones could not have occurred without the commitment of so many people, those before us and those who walk alongside us today.
Download the milestone report:
Bringing our Ancestors Home: We will not be well until this is done
Recommendations for change June 2014
This paper was delivered in June 2014 and outlines Council’s advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on how Victoria’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 should change in relation to Ancestral Remains.
Traditional Owners have always had responsibilities to their Ancestors and to burial sites. This paper recommends legislative responsibility be given to the Council to ensure the swift and respectful return and burial of Ancestral Remains.
In preparing these recommendations, Council analysed the current legislation, took account of members’ own experiences and sought input from Traditional Owners and other stakeholders about how the Act should change.
Download the Recommendations and Discussion Paper:
Council’s annual reports are an opportunity to share its important work with stakeholders and the community.
Council’s annual reports detail their work, including:
- consultations, reviews and engagement with stakeholders and their work
- undertaking of statutory responsibilities
- work with Registered Aboriginal Parties
- repatriation of Ancestors and secret or sacred objects
2017 to 2018
2016 to 2017
2006 to 2011
The Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) was established in 2001 as a high-level advisory council to the Minister for Industrial Relations. It is made up of employers, industry associations, unions and government.
The BICC advises the Minister on economic and industrial relations issues affecting the building and construction industry.
The BICC also engages with state government agencies about the skill requirements and training needs of the building and construction industry.
The BICC is chaired by Peter Parkinson, an experienced industrial relations and human resources practitioner who has held senior positions with employers, unions and peak bodies.
Mr Parkinson is also Chair of the Victorian Building Industry Disputes Panel, which deals with industrial issues affecting the Victorian building and construction industry and plays a central role in dispute resolution.
The BICC is made up of members from the following organisations:
- CEPU – Electrical Division
- CEPU – Electrical Division
- CFMEU – Construction and General Division
- CFMEU - Forestry and Furnishing Products Division
- Lend Lease
- Master Builders Association of Victoria
- Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors' Association
- PETU – Plumbing Division
- Master Plumbers and Mechanical Services Association of Australia
- National Electrical and Communications Association, Victorian Chapter
- National Fire Industry Association
- Property Council of Australia
- Victorian Trades Hall Council
- Development Victoria
- Office of Projects Victoria
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
The Transport Industry Council was set up under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005.
The Council is responsible for making recommendations to the Minister for Industrial Relations on commercial practices affecting owner drivers. It advises on:
- the content of codes of practice, rates and costs schedules and information provided to owner drivers
- the development, publication and promotion of model contracts
- any other matters relevant to owner driver contracts and the commercial practices generally engaged in by owner drivers and hirers in relation to each other
The Transport Industry Council consists of an independent chairperson and nine members appointed by the Minister for Industrial Relations, including:
- One person nominated by VicRoads (non-voting member)
- One person nominated by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- One person nominated by the Australian Industry Group
- Two persons nominated by the Victorian Trades Hall Council
- Two persons nominated by the Victorian Transport Association
- Two persons nominated by the Transport Workers Union