Victorian Traditional Owners Settlements
Following the historic judgement in favour of Australia's original inhabitants in the Mabo case before the Australian High Court in 1992 and the passing of enabling legislation (the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993), there has been substantial and drawn-out litigation to establish individual native title claims in many parts of Australia.
The Government of Victoria sought to facilitate a faster resolution of native title claims in Victoria through its Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. That Act offers an alternative to costly litigation under the Commonwealth’s regime, by empowering Victorian Traditional Owner Groups to negotiate out-of-Court settlements directly with the Victorian Government.
This policy, supported by both ALP and Liberal/National Coalition governments, had its first success with the signing of a Recognition and Settlement Agreement between the State of Victoria and the Gunaikurnai People, based in Gippsland in Victoria's east, in October 2010.
Another settlement was reached with the Dja Dja Wurrung clans in 2013.
The settlement funds for Gunaikurnai and Dja Dja Wurrung were deposited in the Victorian Traditional Owners Trust (VTOT) which accounted for each settlement in separate accounts within the single trust. The Victorian Traditional Owners Funds Ltd (VTOT) was the trustee for VTOT.
An amendment to the initial Trust Deed was signed on 25 September 2018 which terminated VTOT and with effect from 1 July 2018 established two new trusts, the:
- Victorian Traditional Owners Trust - Dja Dja Wurrung, and
- Victorian Traditional Owners Trust - Gunaikurnai.
On the 26th of October 2018 the Taungurung Land and Waters Council signed a Participation Agreement and when the settlement funds are received, they will be accounted for in the:
- Victorian Traditional Owners Trust - Taungurung.
On the 27th of October 2022 the Barengi Gadjin Land Council signed a Participation Agreement and when the settlement funds are received, they will be accounted for in the:
- Victorian Traditional Owners Trusts – Barengi Gadjin
VTOFL is the trustee for each of the Victorian Traditional Owners Trusts.
“We acknowledge the First Nations of this Country as the First People of the land.”