The Andrews Labor Government and the Taungurung traditional owner group have commenced formal and historic negotiations to recognise the Taungurung People’s rights over Crown land in parts of central Victoria.
This is the first time the Victorian Government and a traditional owner group have worked together to resolve native title exclusively outside of the Federal Court’s claims process.
The proposed settlement area takes in parts of central Victoria, including towns such as Heathcote, Seymour, Euroa, Mansfield, Mt Buller, Marysville and Yea.
The Government is working to recognise the Taungurung People’s rights over certain Crown land under Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 – the only state legislation of its kind in Australia.
Acknowledging the difficult nature of litigation under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993, the former Labor Government introduced the Act as an alternative way to recognise the rights of Victorian traditional owners.
The Act allows the government and traditional owner groups to agree to out-of-court native title settlements, avoiding costly court processes while achieving a final settlement of the State’s compensation liabilities.
It recognises traditional owners’ rights regarding access to, ownership or management of public land, as well as rights regarding the use and development of the land or its natural resources.
The Taungurung traditional owner group will be the first to negotiate a settlement directly with the Victorian Government without first having made a native title claim federally.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General, Martin Pakula
“This is an important step towards reconciliation for the Taungurung group, providing the Taungurung People with the recognition and resources to determine their own future, informed by their own identity.”
“We look forward to a successful outcome from these negotiations, providing the Taungurung People a fair and lasting outcome as the recognised traditional owners of their country.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins
“Native title settlements are key to maintaining Aboriginal people’s connection to country and acknowledging them as the original inhabitants and custodians of the land.”
“This step will ensure the Taungurung People can continue to protect and preserve their cultural heritage.”
Quotes attributable to the Taungurung traditional owner group
“Commencement of the negotiations marks a significant step forward for the Taungurung People in our journey towards legal recognition.”
“A settlement with the State will result in Taungurung having our legal right to carry out our traditions and ceremonies on our traditional lands finally recognised.”
“We’re committed to reaching a settlement with the Government that will provide benefits not only for the Taungurung People, but also the wider community, in terms of economic investment and development in our region.”