Joint management is the establishment of a legal partnership between the State and Traditional Owners in the management of public land. Joint Management enables the knowledge and culture of a Traditional Owner group to be recognised and embedded in the management of that land.
Joint Management Framework
In Victoria, joint management is established under the terms of the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. This Act establishes a framework that allows the Victorian Government to recognise traditional owners and certain rights in Crown land, including joint management. To access these rights Traditional Owner Groups can enter into a Recognition and Settlement Agreement. This agreement can include the provision for parks and reserves to be returned to Aboriginal ownership under a form of land title called Aboriginal Title. Land under this title will continue to be managed as national parks or other forms of public parks.
Traditional Owner Land Management Boards
Traditional Owner Land Management Boards (TOLMB) are established with the objective of enabling the knowledge and culture of the Traditional Owner group of the appointed land to be recognised in the management of the land. A majority of members will be nominated by the Traditional Owner group entity; the remaining members, representing the State and the broader community, will be nominated by the State.
Joint Management Planning
The board's main task will be to develop Joint Management Plans for jointly managed parks. These plans will combine Aboriginal and Western knowledge, and provide a basis for ongoing joint management.
Joint Management plans are developed in line with Traditional Owner aspirations, which some groups have outlined in ‘Whole of Country Plans’. Traditional Owners as individuals and a community will be highly engaged in the development of the plans to ensure important knowledge and values can be captured to inform future activities on the Country.
Parks Victoria and DELWP will continue to carry out day-to-day management of the lands, 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.
Joint management will benefit both Traditional Owners and the wider community by recognising Aboriginal culture and knowledge, providing quality visitor and tourism experiences, improving public education and conserving, protecting and enhancing natural and cultural values.
Joint Management Rangers
Recognition and Settlement Agreements may also include an employment outcome to support the establishment of a Joint Management Ranger team to work on Country. These Ranger teams will provide an important employment opportunity for Traditional Owners to play a key role in the delivery of the Joint Management Plan/s and the ongoing protection and management of Country.
For Aboriginal people, ‘Country’ does not just mean the features of a landscape. ‘Country’ includes all living things; people, plants and animals. It comprises the seasons, stories and spirits. Country is both a place of belonging and a way of believing. These ranger teams may be employed by Parks Victoria or the Traditional Owner Group Entity.
Access and Use of Joint Management Lands
Jointly managed areas will continue to be managed under the relevant public land Act under which they are reserved. Transfer of parks or reserves to Aboriginal title does not affect existing use and access
Access and use will be considered through the joint management planning, 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.
Joint Management Arrangements
Victoria currently has joint management arrangements with four Traditional Owner groups:
- Buchan Caves Reserve
- Corringle Foreshore Reserve (within Marlo Coastal Reserve)
- Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park
- Gippsland Lakes Reserve on Raymond Island
- Lake Tyers State Park
- Mitchell River National Park
- New Guinea Cave II (within Snowy River National Park)
- Tarra Bulga National Park
- The Lakes National Park
- The Knob Reserve
Joint management arrangements with the Gunaikurnai people is an outcome of the Gunaikurnai Recognition and Settlement Agreement (2010). The Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Land Management Board provides the governance for the joint management of these parks. The board finalised a joint management plan for these parks in 2018 and is now being implemented.
- Greater Bendigo National Park
- Hepburn Regional Park
- Kara Kara National Park (Part)
- Kooyoora State Park
- Paddys Ranges State Park
- Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve
Joint management arrangements with the Dja Dja Wurrung people is an outcome from the Dja Dja Wurrung Recognition and Settlement Agreement (2013). Joint management governance is provided for through the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board. The board finalised a joint management plan for these parks in 2018 and the plan is now being implemented.
- Alpine National Park (area of the park located within the RSA area)
- Cathedral Range State Park
- Heathcote-Graytown National Park (area of the park located within the RSA area)
- Kinglake National Park (area of the park located within the RSA area)
- Lake Eildon National Park
- Mount Buffalo National Park
- Mount Samaria State Park
- Mount Wombat-Garden Range Flora and Fauna Reserve
- Wandong Regional Park
Joint management arrangements with Taungurung Traditional Owners is an outcome of the Taungurung Recognition and Settlement Agreement (2020). A Traditional Owner Land Management Board will be established and will develop a joint management plan for these areas.
- Barmah National Park
Joint management arrangements with the Yorta Yorta people is an outcome of a Traditional Owner Land Management Agreement between the Yorta Yorta and the State Government. The Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board provides the governance for Barmah National Park. The board developed a joint management plan for Barmah NP that was finalised in 2020 and the plan is now being implemented.
Traditional Owner Agreements Unit
The Traditional Owner Agreements Unit supports agreement-making between Victoria’s Traditional Owners and the State of Victoria under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 and Native Title Act 1993.
We work to ensure Traditional Owner rights are recognised in the sustainable management of public land by leading and coordinating the implementation our commitments arising from native title determinations and agreements. We work in collaboration with Traditional Owners, Traditional Owner Land Management Boards, Parks Victoria, DELWP’s regions and policy groups to implement agreements and forge meaningful partnerships founded on mutual respect. Agreements recognise and promote Traditional Owner culture, practices and their unique relationships to land and waters, for the benefit of all Victorians.
Our work supports DELWP’s vision for Aboriginal Inclusion by increasing the involvement of Aboriginal Victorians in land, water, natural resource management and the built environment to ensure economic growth and liveable, sustainable and inclusive communities. View our Aboriginal Inclusion Plan.
Page last updated: 07/05/22