What can you expect when engaging with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLaWC) for an Advisory, Negotiation or Agreement process? This page was drafted in close consultation with TLaWC. However, nothing stated here binds or limits the ways that TLaWC might respond to a notification.

 

On this page

  • Taungurung aspirations
  • Examples of LUAA outcomes
  • Benefits to others
  • Timeframes
  • Financial considerations

Taungurung aspirations

TLaWC will always seek opportunities to contribute to the wellbeing of the Taungurung people through LUAA notifications.

The LUAA is part of the broader RSA (Recognition and Settlement Agreement), which is founded on acknowledgement and respect for the Taungurung community as the Traditional Owners of the land.

This includes acknowledging their unique culture and knowledge of their land, and addressing the consequences of government policy and practice that led to Taungurung dispossession and disadvantage.

Outcomes from the Settlement Package include:

  • legal recognition of the rights of the Taungurung as Traditional Owners of public land
  • protection of culture and biik (country)
  • promoting respect for Taungurung culture
  • employment and enterprise opportunities
  • legal acknowledgment and respect for the decision-making role the Taungurung play in caring for their country
  • land and natural resource management outcomes.

Examples of LUAA outcomes

Outcomes from LUAA processes may include, for example:

  • installing signs at strategic locations that recognise Taungurung Traditional Ownership
  • acknowledging Taungurung support for important community facilities
  • engaging Taungurung to co-design interpretative information, which can enhance visitor or user experience of the relevant facilities
  • securing internships/job placements for Taungurung members and grants to Taungurung artists
  • drawing attention to the requirements of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, which must be followed independently of the LUAA
  • engaging Taungurung suppliers to provide a range of Natural Resource Management services
  • monetary and/or non-monetary benefits to the Taungurung community, in recognition of the impact of land use activities on their Traditional Owner rights.

Some of these outcomes from LUAA processes may also be relevant to meeting other goals and requirements under the RSA. For example, the Natural Resource Agreement requires State agencies to meet or exceed a target of 10% of their annual ‘total spend’ on Natural Resource Management in Taungurung Country from TLaWC’s suppliers.

Benefits to others

Active engagement with TLaWC also benefits the State, statutory authorities, local governments and others. These benefits can include:

  • relationship building (leading to a more cohesive and inclusive community)
  • access to unique design and landscape knowledge
  • efficient and cost-effective services
  • more diverse workplaces
  • enhanced perspectives on proposed developments
  • progress towards social responsibility and reconciliation goals.

Timeframes

Decision Makers and applicants/proponents should consider LUAA requirements when planning projects.

Each project will differ. The following offers general guidance on timeframes specified in the LUAA (and related documents). There are also some ideas about how to make LUAA processes as efficient as possible.

Advisory activities

Notifications for Advisory activities must allow at least 28 days for TLaWC to respond from the date of notification. TLaWC might request additional time to respond to some notifications. More information may be needed, or time for Traditional Owners to properly consider the matter. Any requests for extra time or further information from TLaWC should be properly considered having regard to the principles of natural justice.

After receiving a response, there’s no fixed timeline for further consultation and decision making. Decision Makers should:

  • allow a reasonable time to consider TLaWC’s response on its merits,
  • take any further steps as appropriate (which might include, for example, meeting with TLaWC or visits to the site), and then
  • decide whether and how to proceed with the land use activity.

Negotiation activities

TLaWC must use its best endeavours to acknowledge receipt of a Notification for a Negotiation activity within 14 days of receipt. It will provide a further response within 3 months of receipt.

If agreement cannot be reached within 6 months of good faith negotiations, either party may seek an order from VCAT. (See The need for compliance for more information about VCAT orders.)

Agreement activities

There is no set timeframe for Agreement activities. An Agreement activity cannot proceed unless TLaWC agrees. Naturally, early notification of a proposed Agreement activity will assist both parties, as opposed to leaving notification until late in the lifecycle of the proposed activity.

Making the processes efficient

TLaWC is governed by a board of directors, all volunteers. The Board meets quarterly to consider LUAA notifications (along with its other business). TLaWC has limited staff to assist the Board with LUAA matters, so it cannot always provide a quick response to notifications.

TLaWC can usually respond within 28 days if all necessary information is provided at the outset, including precise information and clear maps. (See What’s the process?  for details of what information is required.)

Engaging with TLaWC about planned activities before sending formal notifications can reduce TLaWC’s response time. More importantly, it may enhance outcomes for both parties. For example, it enables a State party to build the costs of LUAA compliance (see below) into their project plans and budgets.

Delays can also occur if issues arise regarding the interpretation or application of the LUAA. For example, the LUAA classification of an activity may need clarification. Again, early discussion with TLaWC may help minimise such delays.

Financial considerations

Decision Makers and Responsible Persons should also factor financial considerations into their planning and budgeting. While it is not possible to identify these with precision, the following information may assist.

Advisory activities

The LUAA does not mandate the payment of Community Benefits, or the consultation costs of TLaWC, for Advisory activities. This is at the discretion of the Decision Maker.

Suggestions or requests from TLaWC in response to Advisory activity notifications may have financial implications. For example, TLaWC will request site visits and meetings where appropriate to better understand the project or activity. TLaWC may also request project design alterations.

Decision Makers should decide upon such requests on their merits, having regard to the goals of the LUAA and RSA.

For some Advisory activities, TLaWC may remind other parties of their obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Those obligations may have budgetary implications. But these are not new or additional costs arising from the LUAA.

Negotiation and Agreement activities

Negotiation and Agreement activities give rise to two kinds of financial considerations: Community Benefits, and reasonable negotiation costs. 

Community Benefits

Community Benefits are provided to the Taungurung Community in recognition of the land use activity’s impact on their Traditional Owner Rights. They may be monetary payments, in-kind benefits, or a combination of both.

Further information about who pays Community Benefits, and how their value is determined, is available on the page What’s the process?

Costs of negotiation

The reasonable negotiation costs of TLaWC must be reimbursed by the Responsible Person for the proposed activity. The Traditional Owner Settlement (Negotiation Costs) Regulations 2015 (External link)  specify that these may include:

  • decision-making costs, such as site analysis, report writing and consideration of recommendations
  • professional services costs, such as legal, economic, geological or engineering services, and
  • travel costs, such as car expenses associated with site visits, or public transport to attend a special meeting.

As a practical matter, TLaWC may request the payment of some of their interim costs before the conclusion of negotiations.

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