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Managing Country Together

With responsibility for managing over four million hectares of Victoria’s most intact landscapes, Parks Victoria recognises the value and importance of working closely with First Peoples to manage parks and reserves in a culturally sensitive and ecologically sympathetic way. Parks Victoria is embarking on a reform program to prepare us for a future of jointly managing Victoria’s cultural landscapes with Traditional Owners. The Managing Country Together framework will provide both practical and symbolic recognition of Traditional Owner rights, underpin enduring partnerships with Traditional Owners and strengthen sector capacity in joint protected area and cultural heritage management. It includes a program of organisational reform which will inform our core operating programs, and be strengthened by special strategic projects that will explore different partnership models. See the framework below.

Managing Country together framework 2018 (accessible version)

Managing country together framework 2018

Aboriginal joint management

Joint management is a term used to describe a formal partnership arrangement between Traditional Owners and the State where both share their knowledge to manage specific national parks and other protected areas.

Joint management recognises the ongoing connection of Traditional Owners to the land. It involves Traditional Owners and park staff sharing their knowledge to manage specific areas. Joint management operates successfully in different parts of Australia including New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

In Victoria, joint management is established under the terms of the Traditional Owners Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). This Act establishes a framework that recognises native title in Victoria and joint management can be a component of a native title settlement. The Act allows for parks and reserves to be returned to Aboriginal ownership under a form of land title called Aboriginal Title. Land under this title will continue to be managed as national parks or other forms of public parks.

Traditional Owner Land Management Boards (TOLMBs) will be established to oversee the management of parks covered by joint management arrangements.

The TOLMBs will be made up of Traditional owners (majority), government representatives and members of the broader Victorian community. The TOLMBs first task will be to develop Joint Management Plans for their parks. These plans will combine Aboriginal and Western knowledge and provide a basis or ongoing joint management.

Many benefits flow from joint management for Traditional Owners and the broader community. Joint management provides:

  • Important recognition of the aspirations and continued cultural strength of Victorian Traditional Owners
  • Will lead to new and innovative approaches to park management
  • Will help park visitors learn more about the culture, history and contemporary aspirations of Traditional Owners.

Parks Victoria’s Role

Parks Victoria is the main partner with Traditional Owners in caring for jointly managed parks. Parks Victoria will continue to deliver on ground management in these areas. Our work will be guided by the direction set by the TOLMB.

Joint management and the community

The areas where joint management is established will continue to be public parks and reserves. Everyone will continue to have access to these areas. Joint management will help visitors learn more about the continuing connection between Traditional Owners and the land.

Where is joint management in place in Victoria?

Joint management has been formally established in several locations in Victoria:

  • East Gippsland - The Gunai/Kurnai People have been granted title to ten parks and reserves within their native title settlement area.

    The following are jointly managed with the State    
    • New Guinea Cave II (within Snowy River National Park)
    • Tarra-Bulga National Park
    • Lake Tyers State Park
    • Mitchell River National Parks
    • Buchan Caves Reserve
    • The Lakes National Park
    • Gippsland Lakes Reserve
    • Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park
    • Corringle Foreshore Reserve
    • Knob Recreation Reserve (near Stratford - Wellington Shire Council)
  • Barmah National Park - The Yorta Yorta People have joint management of Barmah National Park. While the title to this park has not been transferred to the Yorta Yorta, the park will be overseen by a TOLMB.
  • North Central – The Dja Dja Wurrung People have been granted title to six parks and reserves within their native title settlement area including Greater Bendigo National Park, Kara Kara National Park, Hepburn Regional Park, Kooyoora State Park, Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve and Paddys Ranges State Park. These parks will be jointly managed and overseen by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board.

Co-management in Victoria

Co-management is another form of partnership with Traditional Owners operating in Victoria. Co-management is an outcome of the recognition of native title. Under this arrangement, title to parks and reserves is not transferred to the Traditional Owners. The Traditional Owners do, however, shape the ongoing management of specific parks by forming councils with representatives from Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Catchment Management Authorities.

Co-management exists within:

  • Budj Bim National Park with the Gunditjmara people of South West Victoria
  • With the Wotjobaluk peoples of the Wimmera and Mallee regions in parks such as Mount Arapiles State Park and Little Desert National Park