Engagement and Participation

Effective engagement with Aboriginal people strengthens local government and enhances Aboriginal community access to services and participation in local affairs.


Engaging with the Aboriginal community is essential to ensuring local government services are effective and respond to the needs of Aboriginal people.

Victoria’s Aboriginal population is diverse, young and growing.  The Aboriginal community has many vibrant leaders and strong Aboriginal organisations and service delivery bodies.

For historical reasons Aboriginal people have not always enjoyed access to government services and had the opportunity to shape and participate in policies, projects or programs. Local government has a particular role in changing this through the delivery of culturally appropriate services and effective engagement with Aboriginal communities.

All efforts to improve partnerships with Aboriginal people begin with engagement and participation.

The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey identified a number of different ways that Victorian councils currently engage with local Aboriginal communities:

  • Developing and operating an Aboriginal Advisory Committee
  • Encouraging Aboriginal Representation on existing council advisory committees
  • Engaging with Aboriginal Organisations
  • Engaging with Traditional Owners
  • Engaging with Local Aboriginal Networks
  • Providing candidate information to Aboriginal people at election time
  • Engaging with a local Reconciliation Group


Maggolee encourages councils to share engagement practices and through this, demonstrate how successful engagement can lead to positive outcomes for the Aboriginal community and in the way that councils progress their work.

Councils can also reference the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (2018-2023) to gain an understanding of the Victorian Government’s approach to working with Aboriginal Victorians, organisations and the wider community to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.

The VAAF 2018-2023 also highlights how the Victorian Government aims to support the advancement of Aboriginal self-determination through the following 11 guiding principles: 













The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria making it essential for local councils to be informed of what constitutes Aboriginal Cultural Rights.

Read this helpful Aboriginal Cultural Rights fact sheet.



Last Updated: April 9, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Useful resources

Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework (VAAF) 2018 – 2023

Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2018

Case Study

Regional local government – Aboriginal forums and local network groups

The Western Region Local Government Reconciliation Network (WRLGRN) consists of six councils across Melbourne’s western metropolitan region (Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham City Councils) and Aboriginal and community representatives. This network aims to strengthen the capacity of local government to partner and carry out reconciliation focused strategies and plans, as well as undertake shared regional actions.

The Inter-Council Aboriginal Consultative Committee (ICACC) was established in 1997 by Aboriginal people, service providers and local councils in Melbourne’s south-east metropolitan area, to enable greater Aboriginal community involvement in decision making. The ICACC includes six local councils (Bass Coast, Casey, Kingston, Greater Dandenong, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula) and links Aboriginal people to the broader community and services through developing partnerships, strategic planning and policy development. In 2009 the ICACC won the local government category of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Wurreker Awards.

The Eastern Metro Region LGA Indigenous Planners Network (EMRIPN) includes seven local councils (Yarra Ranges, Manningham, Maroondah, Knox, Whitehorse, Boroondara and Monash),for information exchange, policy development and support. The Network helps Aboriginal staff and planners to discuss and negotiate complex issues, share ideas and implement actions relevant to Aboriginal communities. It also provides a forum for meet with Traditional Owners and Local Aboriginal Networks. The Network is hosted by each of the local councils in turn.



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