The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council feels that robust processes for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage have been, and will continue to be, undertaken.
Victoria has nationally significant legislation that protects Aboriginal cultural heritage through ensuring it is managed by Traditional Owners. The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council supports Traditional Owners to speak for their cultural heritage and supports this through undertaking statutory responsibilities under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 provides protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. It supports Registered Aboriginal Parties, Traditional Owners, custodians and First Peoples to once again take their rightful place as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
The Council supports inclusive Traditional Owner group structures whilst appreciating that all people have a voice and the agency to speak for their culture. Our people have a strong and respected tradition of protesting - of siting in, of camping out – because we know that questioning decisions is essential to an engaged and dynamic community.
The process of managing our cultural heritage is undertaken through rigorous applications to both federal and state legislation, ensuring inclusion within our community and engagement with our neighbours. The broader Djab Wurrung community have been consulted on the Western Highway alignment, between Buangor and Ararat, and will continue to consult with government on this project.
Through representative organisations which have met stringent requirements for inclusiveness in speaking for their people and Country, the voices of Djab Wurrung people have been heard through the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation and Martang Pty. Ltd.
Continued engagement with non-representative groups undermines the capacity for self-determination of formally recognised and inclusive Traditional Owner organisations. The Council supports these recognised organisations to speak collectively for their community and Country.
Not recognising due process clouds the importance of the acknowledgement of recognised Traditional Owners and what they undertook to participate in these processes. The challenge for us all is to understand that the right thing has happened and that, through the process, the voice of first peoples’ has been recognised.
Reviewed 10 September 2019