Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
ATSIC and Victorian Government sign historic agreement.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Return to Media - Return to Media Releases List   


Media Release

ATSIC and Victorian Government Sign Historic Agreement


22 June 2000


An historic agreement between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Victorian Government signed today was a model for cooperation between Indigenous leaders and Australian governments, according to the Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Mr Geoff Clark.

The Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, and Mr Clark signed the Joint Communique after Mr Bracks, the Attorney-General, Mr Robert Hulls, and the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Mr Keith Hamilton, met the ATSIC Board of Commissioners during the Board’s first-ever meeting in Melbourne.

It is the first such agreement signed between ATSIC and an Australian government.

The 18-member Board, which comprises Aboriginal and Torres Strait representatives from throughout Australia and is known as Australia’s Black Parliament, met at the Melbourne Museum from 20 to 22 June.

Under the agreement, ATSIC and the Victorian Government will cooperate on initiatives to develop a self-sustaining economic base within the Victorian Indigenous community.

Mr Clark said a significant project was in the final stages of development and a further announcement was expected soon.

“The ATSIC and Victorian Government agreement will lead to increased Indigenous business development, home ownership and heritage protection,” he said.

“It includes a commitment to jointly cooperate on improving health, education, training and job outcomes, as well as State and Commonwealth rental housing programs.

“It also supports expansion of the Link-up program for members of the Stolen Generations as well as addressing other recommendations from the Bringing Them Home report.”

Mr Clark said he was delighted that the Victorian Premier, Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister were able to meet with the Board and that he and the Premier had signed the historic agreement that would undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for Indigenous peoples of Victoria.

“This clearly shows we can do business with Australian governments,” he said.

Mr Clark added that the Board was planning to meet in other State capitals through its three-year term, which started in December last year.

Meeting in State capitals, in addition to its regular meetings in Canberra, would enable the Board to focus on issues of local concern to Indigenous people in Australia’s States and regions and to bring the Board closer to the constituents it serves.

The Board would also be looking for similar meetings and outcomes with other State governments when it meets in other capital cities.

Further information: Paul Molloy 0419 690 926 ATSIC Office of Public Affairs


The Premier of Victoria, the Hon Steve Bracks, the Attorney-General, the Hon Robert Hulls, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Keith Hamilton, met the Board of Commissioners of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission on 22 June 2000. This historic meeting occurred as part of the Board’s first-ever meeting in Melbourne.


In the spirit of Reconciliation and the National Commitment to Improved Outcomes in the Delivery of Programs and Services for Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders (1991), the Victorian Government and ATSIC agreed to:

· their ongoing commitment to the purpose, objectives, principles and frameworks contained in the National Commitment;

· the need for a true partnership at a State, Regional and local community level in pursuing healthy, self-determining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;

· the need for joint leadership in progressing the process of Reconciliation within the Victorian community; and

· a commitment to work through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community structures and institutions as appropriate to achieve improved outcomes in the social, cultural and economic well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Victoria.

ATSIC Board members congratulated the Premier on Victoria’s initiatives announced

during Reconciliation Week. The participation of Victorian Koories in the bipartisan Parliamentary motion supporting reconciliation, the establishment of the Premier’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee (which includes ATSIC representation) and the Government’s commitment to a whole of government approach to Indigenous issues were welcomed as important initiatives. In turn, the Premier noted the leadership role the ATSIC Chairman and Board had taken in shaping and directing the national debate on Indigenous issues and in seeking to improve economic and social outcomes for Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

In particular, ATSIC noted that Victoria was the first state to sign off on an Aboriginal Justice Agreement. This landmark agreement is vital to realising the key thrusts of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Report. In congratulating Victoria, Mr Clarke endorsed the Premier’s remarks on launching the Agreement when Mr Bracks said that the agreement “is a determined effort to address Indigenous disadvantage within the justice of its fundamental aims is to have Indigenous input wherever and whenever Koories come into contact with the justice system - from the local police, through the courts, to the most senior levels of policy development.”

ATSIC also endorsed the Victorian Government’s view that Aboriginal land and culture are central to reconciliation. The Victorian Government’s intention to promote a negotiated approach to native title claims was welcomed by ATSIC, which agrees that litigation is damaging for relations between Government and the Indigenous community.


The meeting agreed on the following specific initiatives that have been generated through mutual agreement of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, the Chairpersons of Binjirru and Tumbukka Regional Councils and the ATSIC Commissioner in Victoria:

Indigenous Economic Development

The Commission and the Victorian Government agreed on the value of a shared approach to developing an economic base within the Victorian Indigenous community.

“We believe building Indigenous equity in the Victorian economy including sustainable employment opportunities for Aboriginal people is of paramount importance,” Mr Bracks and Mr Clark said.

Mr Bracks and Mr Clark said the State Government and ATSIC officials would work cooperatively to explore new strategies which link Commonwealth and State effort in this area.

Joint Tourism Initiative

Related to the investment project outlined above, the Victorian Government and ATSIC will contribute $50,000 each to develop Indigenous tourism within Victoria.

The purpose of the initiative is to coordinate and document information on Indigenous

tourist sites in the State.

“We see Indigenous tourism increasing in popularity among Australians and overseas visitors,” Mr Bracks and Mr Clark said.

“Expenditure of a relatively-small amount of money now to make these sites better known and more accessible to visitors will pay dividends in terms of tourist dollars coming to Victoria and employment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff in educational and managerial positions associated with the sites.”

Promoting Aboriginal Home Ownership

In order to address the low rates of home ownership of Aboriginal people, the Victorian Government and ATSIC will cooperate to extend the government’s successful Group Self Build Scheme to Indigenous Victorians. Two specific projects for Aboriginal people will be undertaken .

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management and Protection

A pilot project will be developed by ATSIC and the Victorian Government to facilitate transfer of control of Aboriginal heritage management activities to communities through the development of the skill and knowledge of community members. The project will also improve understanding and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

The project will develop a set of principles to guide future Indigenous heritage management projects, which may inform the establishment of similar projects across Australia.

Youth Advisory Committee

An in principle agreement has been reached to assist Aboriginal youth form an independent Indigenous Youth Advisory Council. A number of initiatives are proposed to ensure that issues of concern to Koorie Youth are considered in Government decision-making processes.

Priority Areas for Cooperation

In addition to these initiatives the Victorian Government and ATSIC agreed to coordinate their efforts in the following areas:

· Improvement of health outcomes for Indigenous Victorians, including reducing higher-than-average rates of infant mortality, treatment of illnesses prevalent in the Indigenous community and implementation of strategies to counter substance abuse.

· Work to achieve improved education outcomes for Indigenous Victorians, including increased retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the school system to Year 12 and growth in the number of Indigenous students at Victorian universities.

· Development and implementation of strategies to enhance Indigenous vocational education and training and employment outcomes including facilitating the skills development and movement of participants through the Community Development Employment Projects scheme to sustainable employment, where that is possible.

· Coordinated planning and delivery of State and Commonwealth rental housing programs.

· Address issues arising from recommendations of the Bringing Them Home report and support expansion of the Link-up program ensuring the program meets the needs of the Stolen Generations.

STEVE BRACKS Premier of Victoria

GEOFF CLARK Chairman Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission

22 June 2000


Return to Top of the Page

  Return to Media - Return to Media Releases List