Section 19(2) of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) states that Aboriginal persons hold distinct Cultural Rights and must not be denied the right to enjoy their identity and Culture, their language, their kinship ties and their spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land and waters with which they have a Traditional connection.
A right to Cultural Heritage practice may be read into this protection of Cultural rights. Aboriginal Cultures are living Cultures, practiced, cared for and transmitted on a daily basis. The practice of Culture involves all aspects of Cultural Heritage discussed in this paper. Caring for Country through land and water management is the practice of Culture; maintenance of Cultural objects and the stories that connect them, is the practice of culture; transmission of Culture through art practice and performance is practice of Culture; speaking language is the practice of Culture.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage maintenance is not just about protection of these manifestations of culture, it is about empowering communities to practice culture. For this reason, Cultural Heritage maintenance of any of the Cultural materials or expressions referred to in this paper must be Aboriginal-led, or it becomes a restriction on the practice of Culture.
Economic opportunity is another important aspect of Cultural practices. Aboriginal Peoples have a Right to access the economic opportunities of Cultural practices. Benefit sharing is an aspect of this right. The use of Traditional Knowledge to develop environmentally sustainable water management practices, for example, brings benefit to all of Victoria. These economic benefits will sustain and strengthen communities, which will in-turn strengthen Culture.
Discussion question: How are Aboriginal peoples in Victoria empowered to practice their cultures?
- What restricts Aboriginal Peoples in Victoria from practising their Cultures?
- What measures will facilitate intergenerational transmission Cultural practices?
- What measures or supports would demonstrate, on the part of all Victorians, an understanding of the importance of Cultural practices?
- What builds Cultural resilience?