why is this important?

Working with Traditional Owners is crucial for any reconciliation work your council undertakes. Traditional Owners have ongoing traditional and cultural connections to their Country and there is not a council in Victoria that would not operate on the Country of Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners have unique rights to their Country and in some cases statutory authority in relation to land and natural resource management and heritage, stemming from Native Title and cultural heritage legislation. Traditional Owners were dispossessed of their Country following colonisation and many still do not live in their Country today. However, that does not diminish the rights and responsibilities of Traditional Owners to their Country. 

Some Traditional Owner groups have been appointed as Registered Aboriginal Parties by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council. Registered Aboriginal Parties have specific legal responsibilities to protect and manage cultural heritage under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Some Traditional Owner groups have negotiated Native Title Agreements with State and Federal Governments, giving them a unique but limited set of rights on their Country. The Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 is the legislation now used to negotiate Agreements between Victorian Traditional Owner groups and the State Government.

There are important customs and protocols that should be observed to show respect for Traditional Owners and their Country. These include Acknowledgement of Traditional  Owners and Welcome to Country.

Recommended Strategies

Case Studies

The City of Darebin held a professional development session in 2017 for Early Years and Primary educators, based on the themes, meanings and cultural practices detailed in Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy’s book Welcome to Country. The session provided educators with valuable cultural education tools, from local Traditional Owners, that assisted to increase cultural safety within their services and empower the younger members of the community with an appreciation for Wurundjeri culture. Over 180 staff attended the session and the overwhelming response was that they appreciated gaining a deeper understanding of Wurundjeri culture and protocols, as well as feeling more comfortable incorporating elements of culture into their teaching. 

links & resources

First Peoples Community Engagement and Partnerships | Maggolee

Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 | State Government of Victoria

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