The Victorian Traditional Owners Land Justice Group (LJG) is continuing a long tradition of traditional owner activism and working together for land justice in Victoria.
Report of the Steering Committee for the Development of a Victorian Native Title Settlement Framework.
We are thrilled to announce that at the National Native Title Conference in Melbourne on 4 June, 2009, the Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls, made public the government's acceptance of the Native Title Settlement Framework as the preferred method for resolving native title in Victoria. All our hard work is finally getting us somewhere.
The announcement involves traditional owner groups having the ability to forge agreements with the State Government to access their traditional land either through hand-back, or joint management of Crown Land, including national parks, and to access land for hunting or camping without a permit. Traditional owners could be compensated for activities including mining and carbon capture and storage as a result of reforestation and the maintenance of wetlands under land-use agreements.
The Land Justice Group has been working to find a way for native title agreements to better meet the real aspirations of traditional owners. We believe the new system has the potential to provide real land justice, and could become a model for other states more broadly. Traditional owners want to engage with the economic system of this country, as equal partners, and not remain marginalised on the fringes of Victorian society.
"The LJG has managed to get government to the table by remaining focused on the big issues - securing land and recognition of culture - the issues that are important to Traditional Owners from across Victoria. Strength and resilience is the legacy we have from our ancestors."
Graham Atkinson, LJG Co-Chair
The decision comes on the back of many years of hard work by traditional owners in Victoria, through the Land Justice Group, for an alternative system of resolving land title that is cost-effective, timely and does not require going to court. As the State Cabinet has accepted the recommendations of the Steering Committee, the next steps will include detailed consultation with traditional owners, and further work to develop policy, including the development of legislation. Further Cabinet approval is required before legislation can be put to parliament and made into law. If you would like a copy of the Steering Committee report you can contact the Secretariat or download it from this website. The LJG is pushing for full implementation of the Framework by April 2010 so that groups who are interested in this new avenue can start to access it in mid-2010.
"The Framework will be there to really make it a lot easier if groups want to go down that path to get recognition of the traditional homelands. We hope and trust that at the end that's what it will come to."
Len Clarke, LJG Co-Chair
We'd like to thank Victorian traditional owners for their support and all LJG members for the commitment to representing our commonly held aspirations at the state level. LJG negotiating team members made a major contribution to the development of the Victorian Settlement Framework through the Steering Committee process. We'd like to recognise in particular Sandra Onus, Albert Mullett and proxy Mick Harding for their dedication. We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Jane Holden, who acted as LJG secretariat after Mark Brett's departure. Jane's hard work throughout the year, in concert with LJG members, has been crucial in achieving positive policy outcomes. The LJG would also like to welcome Romany Tauber, the new Secretariat for LJG, who comes to the position after working with the Northern Land Council in Darwin. Romany will continue to work with barrister David Yarrow and NTSV staff to ensure the implementation of the new Framework.
"What we're fighting for in the LJG is recognition of all our traditional owner groups and our ancestors, our history and connection to the land, and our responsibilities as traditional owners to maintain and protect our culture and our country."
Bobby Nicholls, LJG Co-Chair
Len Clarke, Bobby Nicholls and Graham Atkinson, Co-Chairs