Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Principles

1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a right to self-determination and must be partners in the development and implementation of public policies, programs and services that affect them.

2. Victorian governments must continue to address the unfinished business of reconciliation, through support for:

a) statewide organisational and grassroots approaches to achieve local and systemic reconciliation; and

b) eradicating personal and institutional racism. 

3. Because Victorian Aboriginal people have been dispossessed, without their consent, of their lands, resources and waters, they have a right to redress through measures that assist them:

a) to acquire, own and/or manage those lands, resources and waters; and

b) to access opportunities for economic participation and development. 

4. All Victorians, including those living in discrete communities, have an equal right to essential government services such as health, education, training, housing, community infrastructure, employment support, and policing. 

5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Iander peoples should enjoy equitable outcomes in health, education and employment compared to the general population.                 

6. Victorian governments must recognise the continuing effect of past treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and, working with the federal government to implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report, and in the spirit of the 1997 Victorian Parliamentary Apology, provide full restitution to the stolen generations. 

7. Victorian governments must recognise the findings of the 2009 research into Aboriginal stolen wages in Victoria, make reparation through a formal apology to Aboriginal workers who had their wages withheld, acknowledge their economic contribution to the state and act to provide restorative justice to their families. 

8. Since the Victorian Constitution recognises Victoria's Aboriginal peoples as the original custodians of the land, and:

a) their unique status as the descendants of Victoria's first people;

b) their spiritual, social, cultural and economic relationship with their traditional lands and waters within Victoria; and

c) their unique and irreplaceable contribution to the identity and well-being of Victoria

governments should ensure that the rights and obligations implied by that recognition are upheld. 

Aims

1. Negotiate settlement agreements with Victorian Traditional Owners which deliver land and asset bases for social, cultural and economic development in line with their priorities and aspirations.

2.  Government policies which respect the right of Aboriginal peoples to self-determination, the right to participate in decisions that affect them, and their aspiration for improvement of their social and economic conditions.

3.  Protection for cultural rights of Aboriginal peoples, including their right to practise and revitalise their cultural traditions, customs and language; and resources for community initiatives to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, including intellectual property.

4.  Equitable access to essential services and economic development opportunities and programs.  

5.  Support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations in health, education, training, housing, community safety, employment and business development, which aim to fully close the gaps in outcomes within 25 years.   

6.  Adequately resourced, culturally appropriate and community-endorsed health, housing, educational, legal and welfare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

7.  Family violence addressed through coordinated, systemic responses informed by Aboriginal voices and perspectives; and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community initiatives and networks, alcohol and other substance abuse initiatives, Aboriginal Women's Legal Services, and safe houses.

8.  Ongoing development of child protection and culturally-relevant family support projects, including parenting programs for both men and women, run by and for Aboriginal people.

9.  Increase the proportion of indigenous children attending pre-school through assisting Aboriginal people to set up pre-school programs, and increased access for Aboriginal families to early childcare services. 

10.  Support for, and recognition of, Victorian Aboriginal representative bodies acceptable to and elected by their communities, and increased representation of Aboriginal peoples in all levels of government and other decision-making roles.

11.  Continuing support for the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, its Council and related initiatives (Koori Courts & Justice Forum), and for the continuing over-representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system being appropriately addressed.  

12.  Adequately resourced programs of support and fair compensation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples where historical stolen generations or stolen wages claims are upheld.  

13.  Ensure that the native title (or land use equivalent) process under the Traditional Owners Settlement Act is fair, inexpensive, cooperative and compliant - so far as is possible - with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

14.  Aboriginal groups wishing to make land and cultural heritage claims to be adequately funded to enable proper research and presentation of their case.

15.  Following engagement with Aboriginal communities and relevant organisations in Victoria, establishing a Victorian Government Reconciliation Statement or similar indication of commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

16.  Resourcing the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to conduct research and prepare annual reports on progress towards equality for Aboriginal people in Victoria.

17.  Establishing targets in employment of Indigenous people in all government sector organisations, aimed at ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representation in government services reflects their representation in the Victorian community, and promoting the establishment of similar targets in private sector organisations and businesses.

18.  Strengthening the Aboriginal Heritage Act to ensure that heritage decisions are made by the relevant Registered Aboriginal Party, that items of Aboriginal cultural heritage are returned to and managed by Traditional Owners, and that Aboriginal Victorians play a fundamental role in land and heritage management.

19.  Genuine opportunities for Aboriginal employment, with mentoring and support for Aboriginal young people transitioning from school to work.

20.  Providing funds for capacity building within the Victorian Aboriginal community, for Indigenous non-profit organisations and for Indigenous-run businesses.

General Note

All references are to ‘Aboriginal' where 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' is not applicable, that is regarding traditional ownership of land and cultural heritage in Victoria.