The Victorian Government and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DDWCAC) (on behalf of the Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owner group) have entered into a ‘Recognition and Settlement Agreement’ which formally recognises the Dja Dja Wurrung people as the traditional owners for part of Central Victoria.
The agreement commenced on 24 October 2013 and is the culmination of 18 months of negotiations between the State and Dja Dja Wurrung people.
The agreement is the first comprehensive settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). The agreement settles four native title claims in the Federal Court dating back to 1998.
What area does the agreement cover?
The agreement area extends from north of the Great Dividing Range near Daylesford and includes part or all of the catchments of the Richardson, Avon, Avoca, Loddon and Campaspe Rivers. It includes, inter alia, Crown land in the City of Greater Bendigo, Lake Boort and part of Lake Buloke.
The agreement relates only to Crown lands and waters within the external boundaries of the agreement area.
Will the agreement affect existing rights and interests on Crown land (for example farming, fishing, grazing and forestry)?
No. Existing leases, licences and other rights and interests will be protected for their full term.
Recreational activities like hunting and fishing will not be affected.
What rights to natural resources will traditional owners have under the agreement?
The Dja Dja Wurrung people will be able to hunt, fish and gather in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in an ‘Authorisation Order’ (to be formally issued by the relevant Minister following settlement) or, where applicable, the rules and regulations governing recreational access by the public (e.g. the recreational fishing rules).
The Dja Dja Wurrung people will not have to pay for or hold a licence, but are required to be able to demonstrate that they are a member of the Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owner group.
The recognised rights of traditional owners do not affect the access of existing users, such as recreational fishers and hunters.
There will be annual reporting and monitoring of the Dja Dja Wurrung people’s take of natural resources to ensure sustainability.
The agreement does not provide the Dja Dja Wurrung people with any commercial hunting, fishing or forestry rights under existing allocations. However, it does allow some limited take for commercial purposes, for example, for bushcraft manufacturing.
Will this affect business on Crown land?
The Dja Dja Wurrung settlement includes the first Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA), which commenced on 25 October 2013. A LUAA under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act creates a new and simplified regime for managing activities on public land that may have an impact on the rights of the Dja Dja Wurrung people.
The LUAA is intended to end the uncertainty and complexity created by the future act regime of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), by providing more straightforward and clearly defined procedural rights for traditional owners over public land. For example, in consultation with industry representatives, the LUAA includes a fast-tracked process for approvals of mineral exploration authorisations in the agreement area.
The Dja Dja Wurrung will have an opportunity to have a say or consent to certain activities on Crown land, and in some cases, reasonable ’community benefits’ are payable to the DDWCAC.
For more information on the LUAA, see the Traditional Owner Settlement Act page.
Will there be any changes to national parks and reserves?
Six national parks and reserves in the agreement area will be transferred to the DDWCAC as ‘Aboriginal title’. Management rights for the land will then be transferred back to the State. The parks and reserves will be jointly managed by the State and the Dja Dja Wurrung through the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board (to be established after commencement of the settlement).
In all cases, the parks and reserves will continue to be managed under the same Act of Parliament by which they are reserved, but will also be subject to a joint management plan developed by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board. The joint management plan must be approved by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, following public consultation.
Transfer of parks or reserves to Aboriginal title does not affect existing use and access.
What parks and reserves will be handed back to Dja Dja Wurrung for joint management?
The following areas (approximately 47,523 hectares) will be granted as Aboriginal title and will be subject to joint management:
- Greater Bendigo National Park
- Kara Kara National Park (that part which falls within the agreement area)
- Hepburn Regional Park
- Kooyoora State Park
- Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve
- Paddy’s Range State Park.
What is joint management?
The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board will be established after commencement of the settlement. A majority of members will be nominated by the DDWCAC. The remaining members, representing the State and the broader community, will be nominated by the State.
The Board will develop a management plan with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that will set the strategic direction for the land.
Joint management will benefit both Dja Dja Wurrung and the wider community by recognising Dja Dja Wurrung culture and knowledge, providing quality visitor and tourism experiences, improving public education and conserving, protecting and enhancing natural and cultural values.
Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will continue to carry out day-to-day management and will permanently keep some core management functions. This includes fire management and catchment management including designated water supply catchment areas under the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic).
Will access and use of jointly managed areas change?
Jointly managed areas will continue to be managed under the relevant public land Act under which they are reserved. Protections around existing use and access contained in these Acts and regulations will continue to apply.
Once the land is formally transferred to the DDWCAC, the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board will draft a joint management plan. Access and use will be dealt with through the joint management plan, which includes a public consultation process. The joint management plan must be consistent with statewide policy to maintain public access.
This means that existing licences or leases within the jointly managed area will be protected, friends groups can continue to operate and recreational fishing and hunting will be able to continue.
Will the Dja Dja Wurrung be given land as freehold?
In addition to Aboriginal title land, two properties at Franklinford and Carisbrook will be transferred to the DDWCAC. These properties were formerly held by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and are now unreserved Crown land. These properties have cultural significance for the Dja Dja Wurrung people.
This land will be granted in fee simple and held in trust by the DDWCAC for the benefit of the traditional owner group.