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Promoting Aboriginal self-determination

Our vision: For Victorian Aboriginals to have the right to decide for themselves how to manage their lands, communities and lives.

Acknowledgement: The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission proudly acknowledges and celebrates the First Peoples of Victoria and their ongoing strength in upholding some of the world’s oldest living cultures. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands throughout what is now Victoria, where we live and work, and pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal Victorian Traditional Owners maintain that their sovereignty has never been ceded. The strength, resilience and pride of Aboriginal Victorians, their cultures, communities and identities continues to grow and thrive today despite the impact of colonisation and ongoing human rights challenges.

The Commission celebrates the important contribution of the Victorian Aboriginal community in progressing human rights.

The problem

The Charter does not fully realise the rights of Victorian Aboriginals including a right to self-determination

This is a foundational right that enables Aboriginal Victorians the full enjoyment of all other rights.

The content of the right to self-determination is not settled in Victoria

Although the Victorian Government currently has a number of policy initiatives that broadly align with the principle of self-determination, to date the government has not yet reached agreement with Victoria’s Aboriginal communities on a shared definition of the right to self-determination in this state. The progress that has taken place has been focused on the limited concept of self-determination referenced in legislation for the Victorian Aboriginal Treaty process.

The solution

Work with Aboriginal community leaders and the First Peoples’ Assembly to develop a shared understanding of the right to self-determination

In order to effectively advocate for self-determination, it will be critical that all participants have a shared understanding of the principle of self-determination which will underpin the reform process.

Explore options for a legislative right to self-determination

Reform the Charter to create a legislative right to self-determination or include a standalone right to self-determination in Treaty legislation or other legislation stemming from Treaty negotiations.

Work we have done

Prior to the Attorney-General’s four-year review of the Charter in 2010, the Commission commenced two interconnected initiatives to explore self-determination and the Charter.

In 2009, the Commission engaged the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning to prepare an occasional paper, ‘Indigenous Self-Determination and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities – A Framework for Discussion’. The paper acted as a basis for consultations with the Aboriginal community on whether self-determination should be included in the Charter.

In 2010, the Commission consulted the Aboriginal community on the issue of self-determination and whether it should be included in the Charter. The findings of these consultations were distilled in the report ‘Talking rights – Consulting with Victoria’s Indigenous community about the right to self-determination and the Charter’.

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries

1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledge we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.