Partnerships between Local Government and Aboriginal Victorians

The Local Government – Aboriginal Partnership Project was announced by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Local Government on 23 June 2011.

It responds to calls from Aboriginal Victorians and local governments to focus on strengthening relationships and build on the good work that is already happening around the State.

Local governments are well placed to work with Aboriginal communities to drive positive change in areas such as employment and economic development, health and wellbeing, recognition and respect, civic participation, access to land and protection of cultural heritage.

At a statewide level, key partners are Aboriginal people, the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Local Governance Association, Local Government Professionals, Reconciliation Victoria and all three levels of government.

The Project’s achievements to date include:



Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, Rick Nelson presents a message stick to Mount Alexander Mayor Michael Redden, National Reconciliation Week 2013

Local Government Aboriginal Partnership Principles

The Local Government Aboriginal Partnership Principles have been developed to help councils in building positive relationships with the local Aboriginal community and advance reconciliation and improved outcomes.

A number of councils may already have local principles or have action plans in place that have been developed in partnership with local Aboriginal community. The statewide principles are not intended to replace these arrangements but to provide a starting point for any council seeking to strengthen engagement and partnership with local Aboriginal communities.

The principles have been developed following extensive consultation and broad support by the Aboriginal community and feedback from local government.

Local Government:

  • Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the area, and recognises, values and respects the ongoing cultural rights and responsibilities of Traditional Owners over their traditional country.
  • Recognises the unique and significant contribution made by Aboriginal people* and organisations to the local community and to Australia’s identity.
  • Acknowledges the need to strengthen the voice of Aboriginal people in local decision making and the fundamental right of Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal community members including young people to engage about the matters that are important to their communities.
  • Recognises the respected role of Elders and the important leadership role they have in guiding current and future generations of Aboriginal communities.
  • Acknowledges that protection and conservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage is important for all Victorians.
  • Acknowledges the need to create culturally safe and respectful environments and provide services in a way that demonstrates cultural understanding and ensures Aboriginal people feel respected and welcome.
  • Acknowledges that Aboriginal health is holistic and that it encompasses the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of individuals and the whole community+.
  • Will actively work with Aboriginal people to respond to and address racism where it occurs to ensure that the cultural values and human rights of Aboriginal people are respected.
  • Acknowledges the significant contribution to economic development that is provided by the unique skills of people within the Aboriginal community. It will partner with local Aboriginal people to create opportunities for employment and support local economic participation of Aboriginal businesses.


Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan

The Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan, launched by the Minister, Hon Natalie Hutchins, in December 2016 in Shepparton, is an important resource for councils across the state, as they work towards:

  • improving relationships with Aboriginal communities
  • promoting reconciliation
  • engaging Aboriginal people in planning, decision-making, employment, programs and services across all areas of their organisations.


This plan will be a resource for councils to develop and strengthen best practice in engagement, partnership and employment opportunities with their Aboriginal communities.

The plan brings together the outcomes from a three-year consultation process of Local Government Victoria’s Aboriginal Partnership Project.   It builds on local council initiatives around the state that are demonstrating excellent results, by establishing opportunities to share and extend them, as well as including new objectives and a timeline for action.

Local government is central to the achievement of the economic, equity and liveability outcomes for all Victorians.  Like state and federal governments, councils have a critical role to play in closing the gap in life chances for Aboriginal Victorians: this is a goal that simply cannot be achieved without local government as a partner.

Over the past decade we have seen momentum building towards reconciliation among Victoria’s councils and efforts to close the gap in Victoria.  However, there is a great variability across the 79 Victorian local governments, with some very active councils and some who could be doing more.

Download the Plan: Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan

For more information email:


* the term Aboriginal people is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

+the Aboriginal health principle reflects the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s statement on health.


Last Updated: November 8, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Links and Resources

The Local Government Act Review of 2018 provides an opportunity to address the role of Victorian Local Governments in upholding the rights of Aboriginal people and in particular the rights of Traditional Owners, and in doing so make a vital contribution to closing the gaps in health, wellbeing and life-expectancy that persist between Aboriginal and other Victorians. 

Read Reconciliation Victoria’s Submission to the Local Government Act Review



Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan Review

The Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan (VALGAP) is being reviewed to help inform a future Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Strategy.

The review will identify where the current VALGAP has been effective and where it has fallen short. This will shape an approach which leads to effective, lasting and collaborative partnerships.  The aim is to embed the rights, culture, heritage, needs and aspirations of Aboriginal Victorians into the critical work and functioning of local government through a future strategy.

As part of the review, council forums are being held throughout Victoria. In support of the principles of self-determination, the locations for the council forums have been determined by using Traditional Owner boundaries while also seeking to maximise participation of local government.

Council forums have already taken place in Mildura, Shepparton, Morwell, Colac and Bendigo.

Two forums are left in Melbourne – coming up on Monday 11 November, from 1pm to 3pm or 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

For more information or to register your interest, please email

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