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aboriginalvictoria.vic.gov.au

Strong Roots for Our Futures Program - Guidelines

The Strong Roots for our Futures Program (formerly known as the Traditional Owner Self-Determination Scheme) is a new initiative established to resource activities to support strong self-determining Traditional Owner groups.

Not-for-profit groups
Ongoing

The program has a focus on resourcing Traditional Owner groups whose core Country is not recognised under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, Native Title Act 1993 or Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, located in 4 key regions of the Victoria:

  • Far East Gippsland
  • North East
  • Mid North West
  • Central North 

Guidelines

  • Purpose

    The program is a new initiative established to resource activities to support strong self-determining Traditional Owner groups, and engagement with formal recognition and treaty processes.

    The program has a focus on resourcing Traditional Owner groups of the regions without formal recognition, located in Far East Gippsland, North East, Mid North West and Central North Victoria.

    The program has funding of $950,000 per year for 3 years, ending June 2022.

    Design of the program

    The program's design has been informed by Victorian Traditional Owners, whose voices have be captured in the report 'To be heard and for words to have actions' Traditional Owner voices: improving government relationships and supporting strong foundations (September 2019). Aboriginal Victoria met with over 120 Traditional Owners of the Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland as well as representatives of formally recognised Traditional Owner groups.  

    The design was also informed by:

    • consultations with stakeholders involved with formal recognition, self-determination and treaty policy and process in Victoria
    • a review of policies related to Traditional Owner formal recognition, self-determination and treaty
    • an audit of services and supports available to Traditional Owners
    • a literature review of concepts, theoretical frameworks and best practice examples in the areas of self-determination, capacity development, Indigenous governance and healing

    The program was initially titled the Traditional Owner Self Determination Scheme and in response to Traditional Owner advice, the name has been changed to Strong Roots for our Futures Program.

    Program values

    Developed through consultation with Traditional Owners, the program will be implemented in accordance with the following values:

    • promote healing for individuals, families, groups and regions
    • build relationships across communities and with government and other external agencies
    • respect cultural knowledge and build cultural connections of Traditional Owners
    • recognise the unique role of young people and support young people and Elders to share culture and knowledge
    • build on the strengths of Traditional Owner individuals, families and groups

    Why is the Victorian Government funding this program?

    Self-determination, formal recognition and treaty

    The program is part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to Aboriginal self-determination, as outlined in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2022 (VAAF). The program demonstrates the government's responsibility to support Traditional Owners to pursue formal recognition through any or all of the following processes:

    • Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic)
    • Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic)
    • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

    More information about Traditional Owner formal recognition processes in Victoria is available in our Traditional Owner Formal Recognition guide.

    Traditional Owner Nation-building Support Package

    Acknowledging that there has long been a gap in resourcing for Traditional Owners without formal recognition, there are now several support services available to Traditional Owners of the Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland regions. The  Traditional Owner Nation-building Support Package and the Strong Roots Program are two complimentary streams of support. The Package supports Traditional Owners across Victoria to engage in nation-building and prepare for future treaty negotiations. There are Regional Project Teams with staff from Strong Roots, First Nations Legal & Research Services and the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations that will work across both streams ensuring support is coordinated to achieve the best outcomes for Traditional Owners. 

  • The program will resource activities that support the following outcomes, underpinning strong Traditional Owner groups:

    Healing

    Support for individuals, families, groups and regions to come together, build understanding, strengthen relationships and engage in brave conversations and truth telling.

    Culture and Country

    Support for families and groups to access, connect with and care for Country, and strengthen, protect and maintain culture.

    Governance

    Support for families and groups to share and respect Indigenous governance, strengthen group engagement, structures and decision-making processes, set groups' own priorities and strengthen corporate governance capacity.

    Young people

    Support for you people to engage in group governance, connect with Country, and foster strong mentor relationships that enable the transfer of knowledge between generations.

    Relationships

    Support for strong, positive relationships between groups and with government agencies and other external parties.

    The Program and formal recognition

    Focusing on the outcomes above, the Program will in turn support Traditional Owner readiness for formal recognition processes. The Program is accessible prior to pursuing formal recognition, as well as alongside formal recognition processes. The Program will work in partnership with First Nations Legal & Research Services through Regional Project Teams to support better outcomes for Traditional Owners from formal recognition processes.

  • Who can access support?

    Traditional Owners of the regions of Far East Gippsland, North East, Central North, Mid North West (regions).

    The program is committed to resourcing Victorian Traditional Owner groups that are not recognised under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, Native Title Act 1993 or Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, located in 4 key regions:

    • Far East Gippsland
    • North East
    • Mid North West
    • Central North 

    Traditional Owners of these regions continue to care for Country, practice and maintain culture and support their communities despite a lack of resources and support.

    Traditional Owners with formal recognition

    Traditional Owners with formal recognition are able to access training and workshops through the Program. The program will also support projects that build relationships between Traditional Owners of the regions and formally recognised groups.

    Map of formal recognition of Traditional Owners

    This map shows the 4 regions of the Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland in orange and the 11 Traditional Owner groups formally recognised by the Victorian government in grey.

    Formal recognition of Traditional Owner Groups in Victoria

  • The program has 4 branches of support.

    Apply for each program below. Support available includes:

    • Branch 1: Training and capacity development
    • Branch 2: Family and group meetings and gatherings
    • Branch 3: Small projects
    • Branch 4: Large projects
  • Training and workshops will be offered in the regions, in response to needs and priorities identified by Traditional Owners.

    Training and workshops available in 2019-2020:

    • facilitation skills training
    • Aboriginal Governance workshops
    • formal recognition workshops

    Eligibility and access

    Workshops are open to all Victorian Traditional Owners. Priority is given to Traditional Owners of the Regions.

    Participant selection will aim for the following:

    • two or more Traditional Owners from a family or group to attend
    • Traditional Owners from a number of different families and groups
    • younger participants who are interested in stepping up and getting more involved as well as participants who are experienced in Traditional Owner business
    • both female and male participants

    To get the best out of the workshops, participants need to commit to attend all workshop days.

    Support available

    All workshop costs including training, accommodation, travel expenses and meals for participants are fully funded by Aboriginal Victoria in accordance with the program’s travel support policy.

    Strong Roots for Our Futures - Travel Support Policy - online version

    Application process

    Individual nomination forms will be made available.

    Dates

    Workshop and training dates are available on our About page.

  • Support for families and groups to come together to:

    • build and heal relationships
    • discuss future governance and priorities, including planning for formal recognition
    • support people to be on Country
    • provide a safe and comfortable space to share history, knowledge and research
    • support brave spaces for difficult conversations

    Eligibility and access

    • Traditional Owner families and groups of the regions
    • families and groups do not need to be incorporated to receive support
    • one application per family/group per round

    Support available

    • engagement support
    • independent facilitators
    • coordination with other agencies
    • meeting costs including venue, accommodation, meals and travel up to $20,000 per meeting and in accordance with the program’s travel support policy

    Strong Roots for Our Futures - Travel Support Policy - online version

    Application process

    Download and complete the form below to apply:

    If you need any assistance with the application form, contact the Project Team:

    Jesse Williams, Engagement Officer

    Nell Reidy, Senior Project Officer  

    Applications will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application up to 3 weeks after applying.

  • Support or small grants available for families and groups to carry out their own projects to support strong Traditional Owner groups in line with the program outcomes.

    Eligibility and access

    • Traditional Owner families and groups of the regions
    • families and groups do not need to be incorporated to receive support
    • one application per family/group per round

    Support available

    • project planning workshop
    • support or grant up to $25,000 per project
    • project management support
    • meeting and travel support is in accordance with the program’s travel support policy

    Strong Roots for Our Futures - Travel support policy - online version

    Application process

    Download and complete the application form:

    Applications will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application approximately 4 weeks after applying.

  • Support or large grants available for Traditional Owner groups or regions to strengthen regional governance and relationships, to support cultural strengthening and to share ideas and build relationships between Traditional Owner groups.

    Eligibility and access

    • Traditional Owner groups of the regions
    • groups must hold a planning workshop to develop a project plan
    • one application per group per round
    • groups do not need to be incorporated to receive support

    Support available

    • project planning workshop
    • support or grant up to $100,000 per project
    • project management support
    • meeting and travel support is in accordance with the program’s travel support policy

    Strong Roots for Our Futures - Travel support policy - online version

    Application process

    Download and complete the application form:

    If you need any assistance with the application form, contact the Project Team:

    Jesse Williams, Engagement Officer

    Nell Reidy, Senior Project Officer  

    Applications will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application approximately 6 weeks after applying.

    • applications for meetings and projects that start less than 4 weeks after the application has been submitted
    • land or infrastructure purchases
    • reimbursement for project expenses already incurred
    • capital purchases or recurrent administrative and other organisational costs not directly related with a project
  • All eligible applications for Branches 2, 3, and 4 will be assessed against the following assessment criteria.

    Program values

    How does the application demonstrate:

    • healing for individuals, families, groups and regions
    • strengthening of relationships
    • respect cultural knowledge and strengthening of cultural connections
    • support young people and Elders
    • a strengths based approach

    Outcomes

    How does this application support one or more program outcomes?

    • healing       
    • governance       
    • engaging young people       
    • culture and Country
    • building relationships       

    Planning and achievability

    • Is the project plan achievable and realistic?
    • Does the application include necessary resources and services to deliver the outcomes?
    • Does the applicant have experience / capacity to deliver the project?
    • Is the application endorsed or supported by the relevant Traditional Owner families and groups and any partner organisations?

    Distribution

    The program will seek to equitably distribute resources across the regions.

    Assessment process

    1. Each application is assessed for eligibility.
    2. Each eligible application is individually reviewed and assessed against the assessment criteria. This assessment is undertaken by:
      • program team for: training and capacity building applications and family and group meetings
      • independent Peer Assessors for: small and large projects
    3. A recommendation based on the assessment is made to the Executive Director of Aboriginal Victoria for direct provision of support by AV, or to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for grants. The Executive Director’s and Minister’s decisions are final.
    4. Applicants are advised of application outcomes. If your application is successful, we'll let you know what additional information is required. If your application is unsuccessful, program staff will provide thorough feedback.

    During the assessment process, the program team may ask for clarification about the application or additional information.

    Peer Assessors Panel

    The Peer Assessors Panel will be made up of 2-5 Traditional Owners from each of the Mid North West, Central North, North East and Far East Gippsland regions and will have:

    • understanding and expertise in 1 or more program outcomes of healing, culture and Country, governance, young people, relationships and formal recognition
    • experience in planning and implementing meetings or projects

    Peer Assessors will not assess projects related to their region.

    Submit an Expression of Interest

    Read more about the Peer Assessment Panel.

  • How is support provided?

    The program seeks to be flexible in how it provides support. Families and groups do not need to be incorporated to receive support.

    Support and resources can be provided through:

    • Direct provision of support: the program team can organise meeting support or contract independent facilitators or other service providers on your behalf.
    • Grants: through an auspice organisation or your own corporation.

    For more information, contact our program team. 

    Jesse Williams, Engagement Officer

    Nell Reidy, Senior Project Officer  

    Delivering your project or meeting

    Stay in touch with program staff to let us know how you are going or if you need additional assistance.

    You need to let us know if there are any proposed changes to your project or meeting. This may include changes to dates and venues, who is involved, and expenditure of approved funding.

    Reporting

    All activities resourced through the program will require recipients to complete evaluation and reporting. These are intended to be straight forward and will help to inform the ongoing management and future direction of the program. Program staff can assist with these as appropriate and needed.

    Activity evaluations will be undertaken through informal interviews, evaluation forms and reports. The findings of these will be de-identified, collated and presented publicly in an annual report to ensure transparency and to share learnings across Traditional Owner groups.

    Evaluation and learning

    The program has been designed following extensive engagement with Traditional Owners. The program will continue to engage Traditional Owners in the evaluation of the activities offered by the program, as well as the evaluation of the overall program.

    There will also be a broader independent program evaluation that will build in collaboration with Traditional Owners. This will involve an annual forum to share the collated information from the activity evaluations, as well as the outcomes, challenges and learnings. These forums will provide further direction for the program and guide the support to be offered over the following year.

  • Program team

    The program is administered by Traditional Owner programs, Aboriginal Victoria. The program has staff dedicated to working with Traditional Owners to access and implement support:

    • Jesse Williams, Engagement Officer
    • Nell Reidy, Senior Project Officer 

    Principles

    The program will adhere to the 11 self-determination principles in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF).

    The program team has also adopted the following principles for working with Traditional Owners based on Traditional Owner advice:

    • Traditional Owner led: the program team will respond to the needs and requests of Traditional Owners and will support projects that are led by Traditional Owners.
    • Flexible and adaptable: the provision of support needs to be flexible and adaptable to the situation and needs of all Traditional Owners.
    • Clear communication: the program team will maintain communication with community members, provide relevant dates ahead of time and explain application and assessment processes.
    • Respect Traditional Owner knowledge: the program team will respect and protect Traditional Owner information and knowledge.
    • Support new approaches and ideas: the program will support innovative and creative ideas and new ways of doing things.
    • No duplication: the program will not duplicate resources or support available elsewhere.
    • Formal recognition: the program will not provide support that negatively impacts formal recognition rights or processes, current or future.

    Support

    As well as providing support for Traditional Owner applications, the program will also provide:

    • Structural support: that respond to the needs and priorities of Traditional Owners across families, groups or regions to strengthen individual Traditional Owner applications.
    • Brokered support: that develops and strengthens relationships between Traditional Owners and other agencies and service providers to facilitate access to other support and resources.

    Agency coordination

    Traditional Owners said that the program should work alongside other agencies and service providers so that these organisations can provide relevant information and attend meetings. Traditional Owners also want the program to broker access to other agencies and services and to build on existing support.

    The program will work with other agencies and service providers to coordinate services, resources and support for Traditional Owners. The program will not share any Traditional Owner information, unless with agreement of Traditional Owners.

  • Conversations with Traditional Owners

    Conversations between the program team and Traditional Owners are always in confidence, unless expressly stated by the Traditional Owner.

    The program team may record your name and any contact information during this call so that they are able to get back in touch with you. The team will not pass on your details without discussing this with you first and getting your consent. 

    Applications

    Information provided to Aboriginal Victoria in program applications will be used to assist Aboriginal Victoria to assess eligibility and suitability for the program and to prepare funding agreements. Any personal information that is provided will be handled in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and other applicable laws.

    Aboriginal Victoria, its officers, employees, agents and sub-contractors may use and disclose any of the information provided with the application to Victorian Government departments or agencies, Victorian Government bodies, non-government organisations and/or the Commonwealth, states or territories for any purpose in connection with the administration of the program.

    Complementary applications

    If there are 2 similar or complementary applications, the program team will ask you if they can put you in touch with other applicants to enable the sharing of knowledge, skills and experiences. If appropriate, this may also provide opportunities to maximise resource.

    Successful projects

    The program may publicly name Traditional Owner parties that are receiving or have received support and the type of support, including on the Aboriginal Victoria webpage, to ensure transparency about access to program resources. The program will not publicly disclose any additional information, without the consent of the Traditional Owner parties involved.

    Successful applications may also be the subject of media releases and disclosure as otherwise provided in the 'Terms and Conditions' of the Funding Agreement.

    Project reporting and evaluation documents are confidential documents and identifying information will not be disclosed by the program team without individual or group consent. The findings of these will be de-identified, collated and presented publicly to ensure transparency and share learnings across Traditional Owner groups.

    Further privacy information

    You may access a copy of DPC’s Privacy Policy in relation to the management of personal information collected by contacting 1300 366 356.

  • If you are interested in accessing support, give us a call to talk or arrange a time to meet. We can:

    • answer questions about the program and accessing support
    • talk through your meeting or project ideas
    • facilitate a planning workshop to develop projects and pathways for accessing support
    • provide assistance with applications
    • provide information about other resources and services available outside the program

    Phone or email

    Jesse Williams, Engagement Officer

    Nell Reidy, Senior Project Officer  

Reviewed 19 January 2021