These web pages will help you to understand and carry out your obligations under the Taungurung Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA).

These pages provide general information, not legal advice.

If you are looking for information on the Dja Dja Wurrung LUAA, separate information pages are available on this website. 

 

On this page

  • Overview
  • A new relationship
  • The need for compliance
  • Two key questions
  • Map of the Taungurung settlement agreement area

Overview

Context: the Taungurung Recognition and Settlement Agreement

The Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA) is part of a broader settlement package called the Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA).

This agreement was signed on 26 October 2018, and the LUAA came into full legal effect on 11 August 2020.

In the RSA, the State of Victoria recognised the Taungurung people as the Traditional Owners of an area of Victoria. You can view a map of the area at the bottom of the page.

The RSA is made up of a set of agreements that are legally binding on the State of Victoria, including all government agencies, and on the Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLaWC) as the representative body of the Taungurung people.

These agreements, including the LUAA, recognise and protect the Traditional Owner rights of the Taungurung people. In return, the Taungurung people agreed not to pursue the legal recognition of native title rights that they may hold.

These agreements are complementary with cultural heritage protection – see further information below.

The Land Use Activity Agreement

In a nutshell, the LUAA gives procedural rights to the Taungurung people regarding proposed activities on public land (also known as Crown land). The greater the impact of those activities on Traditional Owner rights, the higher the level of procedural rights under the LUAA.

The LUAA replaces the Future Act provisions of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) that would otherwise apply. It seeks to provide a simpler and more streamlined approach. Like other parts of the settlement agreement, the LUAA is based on the the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Under this Act, proposed activities on public land must comply with the LUAA.

That Act, together with the LUAA, sets out the processes that managers of public land must follow before dealing with public land, or carrying out works on it. Those land managers include departments, statutory authorities, local governments, and committees of management.

 

Introductory examples

Under the LUAA, each activity on public land needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. These hypothetical examples give you some quick illustrations. Please continue reading these pages for a full explanation.

Example 1: activity on land to which the LUAA doesn’t apply

A statutory authority holds freehold title to some of the land that it manages. The LUAA does not apply to freehold land. The authority has an ongoing relationship but no formal obligations under the LUAA when managing this land.

Example 2: a Routine activity

A local government needs to carry out mowing, weeding, fence repair and other such maintenance works on a reserve and some roads that it manages. These are Routine activities under the LUAA. They may proceed without notifying TLaWC.

Example 3: an Advisory activity

A department intends to establish a new picnic area on public land, including tables and a toilet block.

These works are Advisory activities under the LUAA, so TLaWC must be consulted before the works proceed. TLaWC requests a site visit, and makes some recommendations. The land manager considers and responds to these recommendations. It then makes decisions about (for example) the name of the new picnic area and a sign that explains the significance of that name.

The parties also take the opportunity of the LUAA consultation process to note the cultural heritage requirements that will also apply to this project, under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

Example 4: a Negotiation activity

An area of reserved Crown land is to be developed as a football oval, requiring levelling of the surface and construction of a grandstand. This is a Negotiation (Class B) activity under the LUAA.

The land manager negotiates with TLaWC, leading to an agreement to use a Taungurung contractor for some of the works. It also reaches agreement on the Community Benefits required by the LUAA, i.e. money and/or in-kind actions for the benefit of the Taungurung community.

The parties note the cultural heritage protection requirements that will apply to this project. These are legally separate from the LUAA negotiations.

The land manager covers the reasonable costs of negotiation incurred by TLaWC, as required by the LUAA.

Example 5: an Agreement activity

The government is considering selling a parcel of Crown land. This is an Agreement activity under the LUAA, and cannot proceed without the consent of TLaWC.

The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) notifies TLaWC, and negotiates with TLaWC about whether the sale can proceed. In this case, TLaWC consents.

DTF calculates the payment due to TLaWC under the relevant Community Benefits formula in the LUAA.

The LUAA and Aboriginal Heritage protection

As the examples above illustrate, LUAA processes are separate from any cultural heritage protectionrequirements under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (the AHA).

That legislation continues to apply, on both public and private land. Its requirements are independent of those in the LUAA and the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.

TLaWC is both the Taungurung representative body for LUAA purposes and the RAP (Registered Aboriginal Party) under the AHA. 

TLaWC’s procedural rights under the LUAA and the management of AHA matters are complementary and there will be no duplication of processes. TLaWC may raise cultural heritage matters as part of a response or negotiation under the LUAA. However, any issues raised would be resolved through the mechanisms under the AHA.

A new relationship

Many government agencies regularly consult with stakeholders in their communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Recognition and Settlement Agreement confirms a different kind of relationship between government and the Taungurung people as Traditional Owners.

This Recognition and Settlement Agreement binds the State of Victoria and the Taungurung People to a meaningful partnership founded on mutual respect.

It is a means through which Taungurung people can provide a strong future for their children, and is an avenue for their culture and relationship to country to be recognised, supported, safeguarded and promoted.

- Recognition Statement, 2018 (emphasis added)

The LUAA should be interpreted and applied consistently with this commitment to a ‘meaningful partnership founded on mutual respect'.

For example, public land managers have engaged in dialogue with the Traditional Owners when questions of interpretation have arisen, rather than seeking advice from lawyers on how to minimise their compliance.

Such an approach is also consistent with the principle of ensuring the ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of Indigenous people in matters affecting their rights.

The need for compliance

All Decision Makers in relation to land covered by the LUAA must ensure that they are complying with the LUAA. This includes departments, statutory authorities, local governments and committees of management.

 

Who exactly is responsible for complying with the LUAA?

Decision Makers

Under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, the responsibility for ensuring LUAA compliance falls on the person or organisation that is the legal Decision Maker for the activity. This includes those who have the statutory responsibility to:

  • manage public land,
  • issue legal authorisations such as permits, licences, or leases, or
  • transfer title to that land, or revoke or change its reservation.

That Decision Maker must determine what (if any) processes the LUAA requires. They must do so before carrying out, or authorising, that activity.

In many cases, the Decision Maker must conduct any notification, consultation or negotiation processes that may be required, and pay TLaWC’s reasonable negotiating costs.

Responsible Persons

In some cases, a person or body who is not the Decision Maker will be the Responsible Person. This occurs when a third party proponent is pursuing a Negotiation or Agreement activity. For example, they may be applying for a mining authorisation, or a long term commercial lease/licence/permit (more than 10 years).

Under the LUAA, this person is responsible for carrying out negotiations about the proposed activity, and covering TLaWC’s reasonable negotiating costs.

In some instances, the Responsible Person may also be required to negotiate and provide Community Benefits to TLaWC. One example would be when a mining company seeks an authorisation that would allow commercial production.

In most other situations, the State will be responsible for paying Community Benefits according to formulas in the LUAA.

Where a third party is responsible for conducting negotiations about the proposed activity, the Decision Maker remains ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with the LUAA. The Decision Maker must refuse any application until they are satisfied that the appropriate processes have been followed.

Further information is available on the page What’s the process?.

If TLaWC believes that the LUAA has not been complied with, it can seek orders from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT can determine, or order:

  • whether a land use activity was correctly classified
  • whether negotiations were in good faith
  • whether the reasonable costs of negotiation (which must be reimbursed to TLaWC) were correctly calculated
  • to stop, not start, cancel or suspend a land use activity (including interim enforcement orders in urgent cases)
  • to restore land as nearly as practicable to its condition immediately before the land use activity started.

Two key questions

To determine what (if anything) the LUAA requires before a public land manager can carry out a land use activity, there are two main questions.

1. Does the LUAA apply to this land?

  • Is the land ‘public land’ (reserved or unreserved Crown land)?
  • Is it within the LUAA area?
  • Is it excluded from the operation of the LUAA for one of several listed reasons, including the existence of certain kinds of infrastructure?

2. What kind of activity is it?

These information pages help you identify which of the four LUAA categories applies:

  • Routine: No notification needed (but keep records).
  • Advisory: Notification and (if requested) consultation process.
  • Negotiation: Negotiation process. VCAT and the Minister can break deadlocks after 6 months.
  • Agreement: Negotiation process. The activity can only proceed with TLaWC agreement.

Each type of activity has specific processes, together with mandatory or recommended templates, which are explained in What is the process?

Map of the Taungurung settlement agreement area

Agreement area for the Recognition and Settlement Agreement in central Victoria with the Taungurung traditional owner group

 

Accessible description of the map showing the agreement area in Central Victoria for the Recognition and Settlement Agreement with the Taungurung Traditional Owner group

The agreement area extends approximately from the Campaspe River in the west, through to the high county around Woods Point, Mt Howitt, and Hotham Heights in the east. It extends from Woodend and the ridge of the Great Dividing Range in the south, through to areas near Rochester, Euroa, Benalla and Everton in the North.

The agreement area is generally bordered by:

  • the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation Registered Aboriginal Party boundary to the north
  • the Ovens River to the north east
  • the Gunaikurnai Recognition and Settlement Agreement area to the south east
  • the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Registered Aboriginal Party boundary to the south, and
  • the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Recognition and Settlement Agreement area to the west.

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