Greens pitch veto rights and $1 billion fund to protect First Nations cultural heritage


The Victorian Greens have launched an election pitch to protect First Nations cultural heritage with rights to veto developments that threaten sites of high cultural significance and through a $1 billion dollar trust to buy back sacred sites on private land and return them to Traditional Owners.

Giving Traditional Owners veto power would help protect sites of cultural significance from desecration and destruction.

The trust would generate over $255 million dollars in funds over the forward estimates and be available to all Nations and Clans in Victoria.

Funding decisions would be made by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and could form an important part of the Treaty process and its Self-Determination Fund.

As part of their plan to protect First Nations cultural heritage the Greens also want to see:

  • Self- determination and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People enshrined in the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
  • A pathway for unrecognised Nations to get the same rights and resources to protect cultural heritage as Registered Aboriginal Parties.
  • Traditional Owner groups – whether a Registered Aboriginal Party or not – directly consulted on cultural heritage management plans.
  • First Nations culture, history and languages better reflected, respected and taught in the Victorian school curriculum and in our community through names, symbols, and history.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said as Victoria embarked on the Treaty process it was important the next Government protected First Nations cultural heritage as a priority.

She said respect for the oldest living culture on earth meant returning sacred sites to Traditional Owners and strengthening laws to protect heritage.

Djab Wurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe, said if we had rights to veto mines and highways that threaten sacred sites across this Country, the Juukan Gorge and its sacred, irreplaceable cultural heritage would be protected. As would be the Djab Wurrung Sacred Trees. 

With a buyback fund, we can return sacred sites to First Nations communities and ensure their proper protection. The Sacred Eel site must be bought-back as a priority, restored and protected in the hands of Traditional Owners. If such a scheme were introduced sooner, it would never have been desecrated by a private landowner.

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC: 

“First Nations people have lived on Country in what we now call Victoria for tens of thousands of years, and across the land there are many significant, sacred cultural sites for First Nations people.

“Yet our current laws are failing to properly protect these sites from desecration and destruction.

“With more Greens in Parliament we can work with First Nations people to fundamentally strengthen our cultural heritage laws to better reflect the rights of all Traditional Owners.

“This means ensuring self-determination and giving Traditional Owner groups veto rights to proposals that threaten sites of high cultural significance. It also means returning land through the Treaty process and a $1 billion dollar private land buyback fund.”

Quotes attributable to Djab Wurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe:

“First Nations heritage and sacred sites, the oldest culture on earth, is constantly being destroyed in this country. It is time Traditional Owners finally get a say over what happens on our Country.

“Last year, the inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge put forward recommendations for changes to state and federal heritage protection laws and processes. The Greens’ plan to protect First Nations heritage in Victoria will ensure proper consultation with and consent from Traditional Owners to protect heritage and Country.

“If Free, Prior and and Informed Consent were ensured, and Traditional Owners had a veto right over what happens on their Country, the Juukan Gorge would not have been blown up and the Djab Wurrung trees would not have been cut down.”