Current status: The Eastern Maar traditional owner group and the State have agreed to negotiate a Recognition and Settlement Agreement.
The Eastern Maar traditional owner group is seeking to negotiate a Recognition and Settlement Agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). Such an agreement would recognise the traditional owner rights of the Eastern Maar over a given area (Country) and may include associated agreements about the use and management of public land, amongst other matters, to resolve native title claims outside of the Federal Court process.
On 2 November 2017, Attorney-General the Hon Martin Pakula MP announced that the Victorian Government and the Eastern Maar traditional owner group had agreed to commence negotiations to enter into a Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
The Victorian Government’s decision to commence negotiations is on the basis that Eastern Maar have met the State’s threshold requirements. The Government took into account submissions received from Victorian Traditional Owners during the six-week threshold notification period that ended in November 2015.
Negotiation area for the Eastern Marr recognition and settlement agreement (a downloadable version is available at the bottom of the page)
Guidance notes for land users and land managers:
- The negotiation area. The area that is the subject of negotiations between the Eastern Maar and the State for a Recognition and Settlement Agreement, is shown on the map below
- Outstanding resolution of the certain boundaries of the negotiation area. Parts of the external boundaries of the negotiation area remain subject to further resolution, as indicated by the dotted lines in the map below. These boundaries are subject to the outcome of further agreement-making efforts between the Eastern Maar and their neighbouring Traditional Owner groups. Boundary negotiations are underway in the north-west with the Wotjobaluk Peoples. In the east, the Eastern Maar are seeking boundary negotiations with the Wathaurung traditional owner group. If such boundary negotiations are not able to proceed, the State will consider (before entering into the RSA) whether another process to resolve the boundaries is appropriate.
- The intersection of Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Where a Traditional Owner corporation enters into a Recognition and Settlement Agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 and applies for appointment as a Registered Aboriginal Party under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic), then the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (VAHC) must appoint that entity and the registration of any existing Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) over the same area is revoked. The Eastern Maar negotiation area overlaps with the area over which Martang Pty Ltd (Martang) was appointed the RAP in 2007. Martang may remain the RAP over this area until the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC) is appointed. In relation to the wider settlement negotiation area, while settlement negotiations with the Eastern Maar are underway, Aboriginal Victoria (in the Department of Premier and Cabinet) will continue to exercise responsibilities relevant to the Aboriginal Heritage Act with EMAC.
- The Eastern Maar native title claim under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. In 2012, the Eastern Maar traditional owner group lodged a native title determination application (or claim) in the Federal Court of Australia. The claim area comprises part of the negotiation area. The claim was registered on 20 March 2013, from which date the Eastern Maar traditional owner group is entitled to procedural rights in relation to “future acts” under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) on certain public land in the claim area. These procedural rights will continue to apply until a Land Use Activity Agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 commences, as the alternative procedure, as part of the proposed settlement.
- Crown land where Eastern Maar native title was recognised to exist in 2011. In 2011, the Federal Court of Australia, recognised (with the consent of the State of Victoria and other respondents) that the Eastern Maar and the Gunditjmara together hold co-existent native title rights in certain Crown lands, broadly located between Dunkeld and Yambuk (see the Court’s judgment in Lovett on behalf of the Gunditjmara People v State of Victoria (No 5)  FCA 932, at : http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2011/2011fca0932 ). The Eastern Maar negotiation area does not include the area subject to the 2011 consent determination.
Native Title Unit Department of Justice and Community Safety GPO Box 4356 Melbourne VIC 3001