Why is this important?
Meaningful consultation with the Aboriginal community is essential to the process of developing trust and enabling the community to influence the work of council, ensuring it reflects the needs and priorities of the local Aboriginal community.
Councils have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of their communities, as well as to deliver a range of essential services.
Since the Local Government Act 1989 (Vic) was passed 30 years ago, the role of local councils has grown beyond delivering essential services for local communities, to having responsibility for “advocating the interests of the local community to other communities and governments”.
In addition, it is well-recognised that Traditional Owners have distinct cultural rights and responsibilities to care for their Country and they must be central in decision-making about the management and protection of their cultural heritage.
According to the following Statewide Principles, developed as part of the 2013 Local Government Aboriginal Partnership Project:
- Local government recognises the unique and significant contribution made by Aboriginal people and organisations to the local community and to Australia’s identity.
- Local government 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.
Engagement policies and protocols should respect the role of different Aboriginal community groups, and outline the basis of this relationship. They may outline consultative processes, or establish mechanisms for engagement such as an advisory committee to council.
Engagement policies and protocols should be developed in consultation with the relevant Aboriginal community groups and where possible seek the guidance and advice of Local Aboriginal Network (LAN) Community Development Brokers.
There are 39 LANs across Victoria, supported by 12 Aboriginal Community Development Brokers.
What can your council do?
- Invite Aboriginal organisations to participate in council forums and other committees and in consultation about the development of council’s plans, policies and strategies;
- Encourage Aboriginal community participation in consultation about the development of council plans, policies and strategies;
- Establish a permanent Aboriginal Advisory Group, made up of organisations and individuals from the local community.
- Contact the LAN Community Development Broker for your area to find out more about how your LAN can support your Aboriginal community engagement.
- Develop an Aboriginal community engagement and partnership framework.
The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey found that some councils had specific engagement policies or protocols. Others reported they had developed action or inclusion plans.
Last Updated: April 9, 2021 at 3:06 pm