Negotiations are advancing between the Andrews Labor Government and the Wotjobaluk Peoples to create a new Recognition and Settlement Agreement for Traditional Owners in the state’s west.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula today met with the Wotjobaluk Peoples and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council as part of the negotiations. The meeting was followed by a tour of nearby native title sites in Dimboola.
The negotiating team comprises representatives from the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Peoples.
The area under negotiation includes land north of the Grampians, stretching to Navarre in the east, the South Australian border in the west, and Ouyen in the north.
Native title over this area was determined by the Federal Court in 2005 under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. That same year, the Victorian Government entered into a number of agreements relating to native title with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council.
The agreements currently under negotiation will be established under Victoria’s more recent Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, and will supersede existing agreements.
The Traditional Owner Settlement Act was introduced as an alternative to the often costly and drawn-out legal proceedings required to make a claim under Commonwealth law. It is the only state legislation of its kind, and allows for settlements determining the rights of Traditional Owners to be negotiated outside the court system.
Once completed, it is anticipated that the new agreements will provide better opportunities for the Wotjobaluk Peoples regarding land use, management of natural resources and joint management arrangements with a focus on longer term sustainability, economic development and capacity building.
This is one of four negotiations that are currently underway, reflecting the Labor Government’s commitment to cultural, economic and social self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“The Andrews Labor Government is looking forward to a successful conclusion of the current talks to establish new agreements that better reflect the needs and aspirations of the Wotjobaluk Peoples.”
“This a significant step towards self-determination for Aboriginal people in western Victoria, and a recognition of their close and ongoing ties to Country.”
Quotes attributable to Deputy Chair of the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Janine Coombs
“On behalf of the Wotjobaluk Negotiating Team and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, we look forward to discussing our aspirations with the Attorney-General.”
“We look forward to fair and robust negotiations with the State to reach a settlement that provides for sustainability, economic growth and ensures that our unique relationship to our traditional Country is recognised, strengthened, protected and promoted now and for future generations.”