This page outlines considerations for CEOs and senior managers from local government to assist with ensuring council compliance with the LUAA.

On this page:

Understand the LUAA, RSA Schedule 6, and Reconciliation Action Plans

Council CEOs and senior managers are in a great position to lead by example – but only if they understand what is needed, at least broadly.

This information focuses on the LUAA. But you may also be aware of Schedule 6 of the Dja Dja Wurrung Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA). And your council may have, or be working towards, a Reconciliation Action Plan, or another similar set of commitments. How do these documents relate to each other?

Two considerations can help to distinguish them:

  1. Focus: Traditional Owners / all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  2. Requirements: mandatory / recommended

Focus

The LUAA and RSA (including Schedule 6 – Local Government Engagement Strategy), focus on the Dja Dja Wurrung as Traditional Owners.

While some Dja Dja Wurrung people may live within your Council area, all Dja Dja Wurrung people hold traditional owner rights in relation to their recognised country by virtue of these agreements and the enabling legislation.

Reconciliation Action Plans, by contrast, usually relate to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in your area. Other council strategies related to Indigenous people may also have this broad focus.

Requirements

Compliance with the LUAA is legally mandatory, as is compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic).

Schedule 6 of the RSA is framed as a commitment by the State to facilitate engagement between DDWCAC and local councils. It lists a number of actions (items A–L) that may be the focus of these engagements. The first of these – compliance with the LUAA and the Aboriginal Heritage Act – are mandatory actions for all councils in legislation.

Implementation by councils of Actions A¬–L in Schedule 6 aims to build relationships between Dja Dja Wurrung and councils for recognition of Traditional Owners, and for the provision of equitable benefits in the spirit of the RSA.

Use and improve your existing systems

To make LUAA compliance part of business as usual in your council, consider ways you can use or improve existing systems.

For example:

  • Identify LUAA compliance in Risk Registers, noting that failure to comply with the LUAA can lead to VCAT ordering the return of land to its previous condition.
  • Add LUAA assessments to checklists, project management software, or other tools already in use. For example, does the LUAA apply to the land, what kind of activity is it, have we followed the relevant process to conclusion?
  • Ensure that standard record-keeping includes file notes or other records of LUAA-related assessments and activities.
  • Include links to these web materials in relevant council documents, websites and digital portals.

Training

Training promotes compliance with the LUAA. Consider possible approaches for ensuring that all relevant staff have the required knowledge and skills.

For example:

  • general discussion of the LUAA for all relevant roles during staff induction
  • in-depth training for relevant roles, such as in-house training, or attendance at multi-council workshops
  • refresher training after a specified period (such as 2 to 3 years)
  • networks and forums among people with similar roles at other councils.

Note that for the first few years of the LUAA’s operation, the state has taken the lead in organising and promoting LUAA training. In future years this will increasingly become a council responsibility.

Update position descriptions

Do position descriptions or task lists in your council refer to LUAA-related responsibilities or tasks? Updating these might be an immediate and valuable way of building compliance into business as usual.

For position descriptions, consider:

  • Who in your organisation is formally responsible for LUAA compliance?
  • Who, in practical terms, needs to be involved in each step?
  • Who needs to be aware of LUAA requirements (even if not responsible for carrying them out), such as people engaged in planning and budgeting?

For tasks and responsibilities, consider the following phrasing:

  • “Responsible for ensuring council’s compliance with the Dja Dja Wurrung Land Use Activity Agreement”
  • “Assess whether the LUAA applies to a project and, if so, what kind of activity and with what resulting process”
  • “Notify DDWCAC of advisory and negotiation activities under the LUAA”
  • “Consult and/or negotiate with DDWCAC regarding proposed activities under the LUAA”
  • “Estimate time and cost implications, as well as opportunities, arising from LUAA requirements or engagement with the DDWCAC”.

Questions for performance reviews

When relevant, consider building accountability for LUAA-related tasks into performance-review processes.

For example:

  • Adapt self-assessment forms with LUAA-related questions, as appropriate for role description.
  • Ask questions in regular catch-up, coaching or mentoring meetings. (How are you going with…?; Tell me about some examples where…; Do you need any assistance or support with…?)
  • Ask questions in annual performance review processes. (How effective have you been at…? Can you describe some instances, and walk me through what you did in each case…)

Support compliance by other parties

Council is directly responsible for compliance with the LUAA on public land that it manages. Strictly speaking, councils are not responsible for ensuring that other parties who manage public land comply.

However, consider including notes or conditions about LUAA compliance when issuing permits under planning and environment legislation.

Council staff might also be able to provide information to residents and other stakeholders.

Build direct relationships

As noted on the first page of these materials, the LUAA is part of an overall Recognition and Settlement Agreement package, which aims to create a new relationship of “meaningful partnership founded on mutual respect”.

This relationship will emerge through dealings between government and the Dja Dja Wurrung over time, but also through direct personal relationships between key people.

For local government, people who might seek to build these direct relationships with DDWCAC counterparts include:

  • mayors and councillors
  • CEOs
  • senior managers with overall responsibility for the LUAA and/or other components of the RSA (such as Schedule 6 actions)
  • staff with day-to-day responsibility for the LUAA and other relevant matters.

Because DDWCAC has limited staff and resources, it cannot build meaningful relationships at all of these levels across 12 local council areas (as well as with relevant state government agencies). Instead, DDWCAC asks that councils contact them to discuss what will work best for each party.