The Victorian Government and the Eastern Maar Traditional Owner group have agreed to commence negotiations to formally recognise Eastern Maar Traditional Owner rights over Crown land in southwest Victoria.
The negotiation area stretches from Port Fairy to the Great Ocean Road and up to Beaufort and Ararat, taking in Warrnambool, the Shipwreck Coast and the Otways.
The Labor Government and the Eastern Maar will now work towards reaching a settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
The negotiations will include recognition of the Eastern Maar people’s right to access, own and manage public land as well as take and participate in the management of natural resources.
Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 was introduced as an alternative to pursuing costly and drawn- out litigation under the Commonwealth Native Title Act.
These negotiations represent a commitment to acknowledging Traditional Owners and their enduring relationships to country.
Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation CEO Jamie Lowe:
“The fight for recognition for Eastern Maar citizens has been a long journey and I would like to acknowledge the tireless work put in by our Elders and community to date. The State’s decision to negotiate with us is an acknowledgement that we are the Traditional Owners for our Country. We are committed to a quick resolution to these talks and will continue to build strong and respectful relationships with all stakeholders on Eastern Maar Country.”
ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART
On 26 May 2017, in Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, Delegates – a cross section of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from around Australia – adopted the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’
Coming from all points of the southern sky, over 250 Delegates gathered at the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention and made a historic statement from the heart in hopes of improving the lives of future generations.
“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”
Building on years of work and activism, this process gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the chance to have their say on constitutional reform and the model they would support moving forward.
Established by both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, the Referendum Council were charged with seeking out the views of First Nations people from across the country and reporting back.
Delegates agreed that sovereignty has never been ceded or extinguished.
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, Delegates believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through, while giving First Nations people more control over their destiny.
The statement in full:
ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.