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
- Geraldine Atkinson
- Jennifer Beer
- Jim Berg
- Eleanor A Bourke
- Tim Chatfield
- Nellie Flagg
- Jill Gallagher AO (resigned February 2018)
- Mick Harding
- Ron Jones
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.
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.
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