This included funding Aboriginal organisations to engage with their communities and begin preparing for future treaty negotiations. Now that the Assembly is established, it is the sole representative for Aboriginal Victorians in this phase of the treaty process and will lead community engagement to advance treaty. The Victorian Government will continue to provide funding to support Traditional Owners to pursue their nation-building priorities.
Supporting Aboriginal Victorians to engage in treaty
Between 2018 and 2020, DPC oversaw the Treaty Community Engagement (Program). The Program supported Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal Victorians to engage with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities on the treaty process. The Program awarded $2 million in grants, across a total of 36 funding agreements with 33 Aboriginal organisations (Traditional Owner groups and other Aboriginal organisations and businesses). This included:
- twenty-four Treaty Engagement Grants, of up to $100,000 each, supporting in-depth, extended consultation and strategic planning and research on self-determination and treaty
- twelve Treaty Circle Grants of up to $10,000 each, supporting smaller consultations on key matters relating to treaty.
An independent evaluation of the Program was undertaken in mid-2020 to assess its outcomes. Findings from the evaluation will be provided to the Assembly to support its work on treaty, including community engagement. Aboriginal Victoria will retain only those findings related to the Program operation and outcomes, and the Assembly will exclusively retain findings on the views on self-determination and treaty raised by participants in projects funded under the Program.
Supporting Traditional Owners to pursue their nation-building priorities
In August 2019, the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gavin Jennings, announced the Traditional Owner Nation-building Support Package (Nation-building Package). The Nation-building Package invests $13.6 million over two years to resource Traditional Owners across Victoria to pursue their nation-building priorities.
The Nation-building Package will enable a wide range of nation-building activities and expand important services and supports for Traditional Owner groups. This includes support for Traditional Owner groups to seek formal recognition, currently a requirement to gain a reserved seat on the Assembly.
The Nation-building Package will be delivered and overseen by the Nation-building Support Services Partnership comprising the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, First Nations Legal and Research Services, and Aboriginal Victoria. The Partnership will ensure that the Nation-building Package:
- is flexible and responsive to the goals and objectives of Traditional Owner groups
- can accommodate a broad range of priorities and recognises the holistic nature of Traditional Owner business
- is coordinated to avoid unnecessary duplication and to maximise resources across the state.
The Nation-building Package comprises four key components: Traditional Owner mapping, Traditional Owner Engagement Officers, Nation-building support services and a Nation-building Resource Pool.
Traditional Owner mapping
First Nations Legal and Research Services has been resourced to carry out additional research and mapping for Traditional Owner groups currently without formal recognition. This research will be undertaken independent of government.
Research and mapping support commenced in July 2020 and is funded over two years.
Traditional Owner Engagement Officers
Engagement Officers will support Traditional Owner groups’ access to the Nation-building Package.
All formally recognised Traditional Owner groups have been offered funds through the Nation-building Package to employ an Engagement Officer full time for two years.
Engagement Officers for areas without a formally recognised Traditional Owner group (Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland) will be employed by Aboriginal Victoria.
Nation-building support services
The Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, First Nations Legal and Research Services and Aboriginal Victoria have all received funding to expand their delivery of services to Traditional Owners through the Nation-building Package.
Nation-building Resource Pool
A flexible pool of $4.3 million will be available on an equitable basis to formally recognised Traditional Owner groups and those currently without formal recognition to support nation-building activities to meet the specific needs and priorities of Traditional Owners.
The Nation-building Resource Pool will be administered by the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, with decision-making about the allocation of funds to be a function of the Partnership.
Reviewed 05 October 2020