Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council's 10-year anniversary celebration

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Friday 26 May at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.

Over 70 stakeholders, including Special Minister of State The Hon Gavin Jennings and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Hon Natalie Hutchins, honoured the Council’s work and commitment over the last 10 years to Aboriginal cultural heritage protection in Victoria.

Established under the world class Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, the Council was formed to ensure that Traditional Owners throughout Victoria play a central role in the protection and management of their heritage.

The Act came into effect on 28 May 2007, coinciding with the anniversary of the 27 May 1967 federal referendum that overwhelmingly determined (90.77% ‘Yes’ votes) Aboriginal peoples could be counted as citizens.

Central to the event was a panel discussion of Council’s past and future direction. Key speakers reflected on their relationship with Council and the Act:

  • The Hon. Gavin Jennings, Special Minister of State and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs when the Aboriginal Heritage Act was enacted, discussed the environment that led to the formation of the Act and the importance of this significant legislation. Minister Jennings said, “the Council has led the way in transitioning decision-making for the management of Aboriginal cultural heritage from government to Traditional Owner groups.”
  • Denise Lovett – former Chairperson and member of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, former Executive Officer and Chairperson of Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, spoke about the legislative framework creating the Council and its significant achievements. Denise said,"I didn't think [the Council] was going to be achieved...it took 200 years to do."
  • Rodney Carter, current and formation member of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and Group Chief Executive Officer of  Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty. Ltd., spoke about the broader legislative environment around the Act, alignment with the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, and the formation of Council itself, stating "the Act is a reflection of brilliant leadership...the bi-partisan nature and the support for us as First Peoples..to have direct conversations with Government."
  • Damien Jackson , Parks Victoria Project Officer, Murray River Burials, spoke about his practical engagement with the Act, particularly with his work on Country protecting Ancestors' resting places and calling for support for this important work, "working with the Act...we've done some great work...there's nothing like walking away from a site all covered up, you just get that sense walking away that your ancestors are at rest."

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, Hon Natalie Hutchins, also spoke at the anniversary event - "I commend the Council on its work to date and I look forward to Council’s increased responsibilities, along with the strengthened roles of the Registered Aboriginal Parties whom they appoint, resulting in greater positive outcomes for Aboriginal cultural heritage in this state."

The Council also acknowledged Sorry Day, with guests holding a minute silence.

Council members with The Hon Gavin Jennings and Hon Natalie Hutchins

Above: Council members with The Hon Gavin Jennings and Hon Natalie Hutchins.

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Above: Panellists The Hon Gavin Jennings, Denise Lovett, Rodney Carter and Damien Jackson, in conversation facilitated by MC Josh Smith.

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Guests were presented a booklet about Council's 10-year journey (PDF, 3.39 MB), bookmark and lapel pin for Council's 10-year anniversary event.


Last updated on Tuesday, 29 August 2017