The Traditional Owner Settlement Act provides for an out-of-court settlement of native title and delivery of land justice.  

Benefits of a Recognition and Settlement Agreement

A Recognition and Settlement Agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act is an attractive alternative to pursuing a native title determination as:

  • It is a streamlined, expedited and cost effective approach to settling native title claims by negotiation
  • It includes new outcomes to increase the proportion of Aboriginal people with access to their traditional lands and to increase economic and social opportunities in Victoria
  • It contributes to reconciliation in Victoria through building stronger partnerships with Aboriginal Victorians, resolving long-standing land grievances, and strengthening communities and cultural identity

Components of a Settlement Agreement

A Recognition and Settlement Agreement is entered into by the Attorney-General and Traditional Owners under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act can include the following:

  • Land Agreement – formalises the handing back of parks and reserves of significance to the Traditional Owner group to be jointly managed with the State
  • Land Use Activity Agreement – provides a simplified regime to guide consultation and negotiation with Traditional Owners for activities that have a substantial impact on Traditional Owner rights in public land within the agreement area
  • Natural Resource Agreement  –  provides for the access to, and sustainable use of, natural resources and Traditional Owner participation

Interaction with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) will continue to apply to Victoria and it remains open to claimants to pursue their native title claims through the Federal Court.  

Traditional Owner Settlement Act allows the Victorian Government to make agreements to recognise Traditional Owners and their rights in Crown land, in return for agreement to withdraw any native title claims and not to lodge any claims in the future.

Agreement making under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act provides an attractive alternative to pursuing lengthy and costly court processes under the Native Title Act.

Find out more about agreements with Traditional Owners in Victoria.