Native title is the recognition in Australian law that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to hold rights and interests in land and water. Traditional Owners can seek determination of native title under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), or through an alternative process in Victoria through the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). This allows the Victorian Government and Traditional Owner groups to make agreements that recognise traditional owners' relationship to land and provide them with certain rights on Crown land. For further information see native title determinations and the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) provides input into these processes as the Crown land manager, and works in partnership with Traditional Owner groups to ensure Traditional Owner rights are recognised in the sustainable management of public land, and in fulfilling the department’s commitments arising from native title determinations, TOS Act settlements or other agreements.
In March 2013 the Victorian Government and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DDWCAC), on behalf of the Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owner group, entered into a Recognition and Settlement Agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 which recognises the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Traditional Owner group of approximately 266,532 hectares of public land in Central Victoria. The agreement settles four native title claims in the Federal Court dating back to 1998.
The Dja Dja Wurrung settlement agreement relates to Crown lands and waters only within the external boundaries of the agreement area. Any existing interest, such as licences over Crown Land, are unaffected by the Agreement. Similarly the Agreement does not affect freehold land.
The Dja Dja Wurrung RSA includes:
- The granting of Aboriginal title over two national parks, one regional park, two state parks and one reserve to the Dja Dja Wurrung, to be jointly managed with the State
- The transfer of two freehold properties of cultural significance at Carisbrook and Franklinford
- Funding to enable the Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation to meets its settlement obligations and 'seed capital' to enable economic development opportunities
- Rights for Dja Dja Wurrung people to hunt, fish and gather, in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the 'Authorisation Orders' and where rules and regulations apply governing recreational access by the public
- A Land Use Activity Agreement which will provide the Corporation with an opportunity to provide input or give their agreement to certain activities taking place on Crown Land
Find out more about the Dja Dja Wurrung settlement
As part of the Recognition and Settlement Agreement, the State entered into a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement (TOLMA). This agreement establishes the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board to jointly manage six parks and reserves in the agreement area.
On 22 October 2010, the Federal Court recognised that the Gunaikurnai people hold native title over much of Gippsland. On the same day the Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) between the Victorian Government and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLAWC) commenced.
The Gunaikurnai's agreement area extends from West Gippsland, near Warragul, east to the Snowy River and north to the Great Dividing Range. It also extends 200 metres offshore. The determination of native title under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) covers the same area. Please see the Gunaikurnai Native Title Settlement Agreement map (PDF, 1.1 MB)The Gunaikurnai Settlement Agreement was the first agreement to be reached under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act (2010).
The agreement includes:
- Orders by the Federal Court recognising that the Gunaikurnai people hold native title in the settlement area.
- An agreement for some national parks and reserves to be granted as Aboriginal title to the Gunaikurnai to be jointly managed with the State.
- Rights for Gunaikurnai people to access and use Crown land for traditional purposes, including hunting, fishing, camping and gathering in accordance with existing laws.
- Funding for the Gunaikurnai to manage their affairs, including responding to their obligations under the settlement.
As part of the Gunaikurnai settlement agreement, the State entered into a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement. This agreement establishes the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Land Management Board to jointly manage ten national parks and reserves in the agreement area.
Find out more about the Gunaikurnai Native Title Agreement.
On 30 March 2007 the Federal Court of Australia delivered a consent determination over almost 140,000 hectares across the southwest of Victoria, recognising the Gunditjmara People’s native title rights and interests across our traditional homelands and waters.
The consent determination area is bounded on the west by the Glenelg River, and to the north by the Wannon River. Gunditjmara native title covers national parks including the Lower Glenelg National Park, Mt Richmond National Park and Budj Bim National Park as well as Lake Condah and State Forests including Cobboboonee State Forest, Dunmore State Forest and Hotspur State Forest.
The Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC) is the representative body for the Gunditjmara People.
As part of the settlement, the State entered into a Co-operative Management Agreement covering Budj Bim National Park in South West Victoria. The agreement establishes the Budj Bim Council, a land management council which provides advice and makes recommendations to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change about the management of Budj Bim National Park.
As part of the settlement, the State also agreed to the freehold transfer of Lake Condah to Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
On 27 July 2011, the Federal Court of Australia determined that both the Traditional Owners represented by GMTOAC and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation are the native title holders for the land and waters between the Shaw and Eumeralla Rivers from Deen Maar (including Yambuk) to Lake Linlithgow. Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island) holds deep and significant cultural association for Traditional Owners.
The Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) between the Victorian Government and Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLAWC), commenced on 11 August 2020. The settlement finalises the Taungurung's native title claims and aspirations.
This significant milestone legally recognises the Taungurung people as the Traditional Owners of their Country (the agreement area) and their Traditional Owner rights on public land in their Country.
The agreement package includes:
- Recognition of the Taungurung Peoples' Traditional Owner rights in relation to access, ownership, management and decision making in relation to public land and natural resource management on public land.
- Protocols for Acknowledgements and Welcomes to Country
- Recognises the Taungurung Peoples special association to the Goulburn River
- Aboriginal title and joint management of nine parks and reserves in Taungurung Country.
- Land Use Activity Agreement
- Natural Resource Agreement
- Land Agreement
- Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement.
Find out more about the Taungurung Recognition and Settlement Agreement.
In October 2022 the Barengi Gadgin Land Council (BGLC), acting on behalf of the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples (Wotjobaluk Peoples), signed a Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) with the Victorian Government under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) (TOS Act). The finalisation of the RSA is a significant step in recognising the Wotjobaluk peoples and their ongoing connection to their Country. The foundation of the RSA is recognition of the Wotjobaluk People’s Traditional Owner rights in approximately 10,540 square kilometres (or 1,054,000 hectares) of public land.
The RSA builds on the Wotjobaluk Peoples’ existing native title recognition determined by the Federal Court in 2005 that found the Wotjobaluk Peoples hold native title over approximately 398km2 (or 4 per cent) of the public land in their claim area. The RSA will advance self-determination for Wotjobaluk people by embedding Traditional Owners in government decision making and through systemic and structural changes in public land and natural resource management (NRM).
The agreement package includes:
- Recognition of the Wotjobaluk Peoples' Traditional Owner rights in relation to access, ownership, management and decision making in relation to public land and natural resource management on public land
- Protocols for Acknowledgements and Welcomes to Country
- Recognition of the Wotjobaluk People's special connection to the Wimmera River and biodiversity
- Land Agreement - Grant of Aboriginal title and joint management for 12 parks and reserves, and the option for the transfer of certain properties as freehold title to the BGLC
- Natural Resource Agreement - recognises the rights of the WJJWJ Peoples to take and use certain natural resources on Crown land; and participate (with the state) in the management of natural resources in the agreement area. The agreement also includes a Procurement Strategy which will support Wotjobaluk Peoples to access NRM economic opportunities on public land in the agreement area.
In June 2004, the State and the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation entered into a Co-operative Management Agreement. This agreement recognises Yorta Yorta people as Traditional Owners and acknowledges their unique and inherent connection to, and responsibly for, Country. Please see the designated areas under the Yorta Yorta Co-operative Management agreement map (JPG, 2.5 MB).
The Co-operative Management Agreement formalised the involvement of Yorta Yorta people in decision making relating to the protection, maintenance and sustainability of certain public land defined in the agreement, referred to as Designated Areas.
The Yorta Yorta Designated Areas include the Lower Goulburn National Park, Echuca Regional Park, Shepparton Regional Park, Gemmill Swamp Wildlife Reserve, Arcadia Streamside Reserve, Kanyapella Wildlife Reserve, Loch Garry Wildlife Area and other areas of public land within the region. It also includes Kow (Ghow) Swamp which is of high cultural significance to Yorta Yorta people.
In October 2010, the State agreed to jointly manage Barmah National Park with the Yorta Yorta people. Barmah National Park, located in Victoria’s north, comprises 28,500 hectares of public land (over four and a half thousand Melbourne Cricket Grounds) and contains one of Australia’s largest River Red Gum Forests.
The joint management arrangement is established under a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement which also sets up the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board (TOLMB). The Board’s objective is for Yorta Yorta people’s knowledge and culture to be recognised and embedded in the management of Barmah National Park. This is achieved via preparing and implementing a joint management plan.
In April 2020, the Barmah National Park Joint Management Plan, prepared by the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board, was publicly released. The plan guides the strategic management of Barmah National Park over the next 10 years.
Read more about the Joint Management Plan for Barmah National Park.
Page last updated: 06/01/23