Ministerial Meeting Request: Victorian Traditional Owners

March 2011


Dear Minister Powell,

Congratulations on your appointment as the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. All of our Traditional Owner Parties look forward to meeting you to discuss a range of issues and aspirations in the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio. There are many Traditional Owner Groups who have issues and aspirations that were not addressed by the previous Government. Many of the issues arose from native title and cultural heritage, economic development and the delivery of general community services. Many of the Indigenous community agencies at a state and local level are a closed shop and exclude many Traditional Owners including Torres Strait Islanders. The current Indigenous agencies involved in cultural heritage and native title are government appointed or self appointed, the Traditional Owner Groups having no say or participation. There is widespread concern that:

Aboriginal Affairs Victoria is a bureaucratic shambles and have created policies to divide and cause conflict at all levels particularly in cultural heritage and the LIN processes. We see this in places like Shepparton, Geelong, Broadmeadows, Wodonga and Robinvale for example.

Native Title Services Victoria Pty Ltd is a private company owned and controlled by a handful of shareholders who do not represent or act for all Traditional Owner Groups on an equitable and non discriminatory basis. NTSV does not have a mandate from Victorian Traditional Owner Groups. The outcomes produced by NTSV have been minimal and a new direction is required to secure positive outcomes from native title and land justice. A statewide meeting of all Traditional Owners should be called to review NTSV and come up with a better solution to native title management.

Your proposed Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the decision-making of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council is to be welcomed. Our Parties will have strong input into the Inquiry and the review of the VAHA legislation. The failure of the VAHC to carry out its statutory functions are well documented. The fact that only nine partial approvals for RAPs have been done in five years is a disgrace. The issue of personal interest and conflicts of interest of VAHC Members and their relationship to NTSV is another.

However the proposed Inquiry does not go far enough and should include the administration of native title and associated issues. Our Parties would like to discuss with you the need to broaden the Inquiry into all aspects of Aboriginal Affairs including housing, education and economic development projects such as the proposed $500m Victorian Indigenous Cultural and Knowledge Centre in the CBD.

It is requested that you meet at Parliament Hosue to discuss our concerns with other Parties outside of the mainstream Indigenous groups who were favoured by the previous Government.

We have emailed into this email many of the Traditional Owners and Groups who have urged us to request the meeting with you.

See Yaalong the Rivers and Lakes, in the Mallee, Up the Mountain or in the Big Smoke,