why is this important?

First Peoples have lived in Victoria for many tens of thousands of years, with evidence around Moyjil in Warrnambool showing probability that First Peoples have been here for 120,000 years. This would be 119,750 years more than European people. There is incredible diversity among the First Peoples of Victoria. Different Traditional Owners have different creation stories, totems, art styles and cultures. The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages works with 44 different language groups across the state. It is also important to note that within certain groups, there are also different clans. 

It is crucial that when working for and with First Peoples you recognise they are not a homogenous group. Even in a relatively small state like Victoria there is a wealth of cultures, knowledges and wisdom. It is also important to acknowledge that, despite the severe impacts of colonisation on First Peoples in Victoria, links to Country have never been broken. Traditional cultural, spiritual and economic links to Country are enduring.

The strength of the First Peoples community is reflected in the range of First Peoples organisations and networks across the state. First Peoples organisations are vital to the health, wellbeing and liveliness of First Peoples communities. They are often focal points for the local First Peoples community and the broader service sector, and are well placed to work with councils. It is important that councils engage with the breadth of First Peoples organisations with an interest in their municipality as they each reflect specific interests and expertise.

Recommended Strategies

  • Know and recognise the local Traditional Owners of the land your council works on.
  • Learn more about Registered Aboriginal Parties and investigate ways you can work with them on cultural heritage and land management outcomes.
  • Create a list of all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in your municipality and develop close links with them across health, welfare, justice, housing and community services.
  • Get to know Victoria’s peak bodies in different sectors (see Key Contacts below).
  • Understand Local Aboriginal Networks (LANs) and build relationships with your local LAN Broker who works with community to provide a voice in identifying local issues and planning for the future.

Case Studies

Mildura Rural City Council has built structures that allow them to connect with a range of First Peoples and community organisations. Their Aboriginal Action Committee includes a range of representatives including Elders, a LAN Broker and a representative from the Local Aboriginal Justice Action Committee. With such deep community connections, the Aboriginal Action Committee has organised many successful initiatives including a Reconciliation Action Plan, a National Reconciliation Week March and the Mildura Corroboree which won a HART Award in 2020.

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