Aboriginal Treaty and self-determination

2020 Victorian Budget Analysis

To date, the Victorian Government’s historic commitment to Treaty has seen the appointment of a dedicated Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner, the passage of Australia’s first treaty legislation and the establishment of the representative body for Aboriginal Victorians, the First Peoples’ Assembly of VictoriaVCOSS welcomes new funding to progress the Aboriginal Treaty process, and to support Aboriginal people and organisations to participate. 

To enable self-determination, the Government has also provided significant funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across a range of areas including health and mental health, family violence, alcohol and other drugs and youth justiceReform of the care sector has also received significant funding with a focus on supporting Aboriginal children and families. Around 930 new social housing homes are also provided for Aboriginal Victorians in the new Big Build housing initiative 


Positive initiatives 

Continued Treaty processes with First Nations people 

More than $20m has been provided over three years ($3m in 2020-21) for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria to continue preparing for Treaty negotiations and the Truth and Justice Process. This will increase the Assembly’s capacity to consult, engage and include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians in the Treaty process. It will also help deliver a new campaign to further build collective understanding amongst all Victorians about the importance of the Treaty process.  


Workforce Recovery for ACCOs and ACCHOs 

$20m in 2020-21 ($40m/2yrsis provided for a service delivery fund for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to boost targeted support services as part of the Workforce Recovery program 


Reforming care services

$86.7m in 2020-21 ($363.6m/4yrs) to progress implementation of the reform agenda for child, youth and family services to improve outcomes and experiences for children and young people in residential care. The package includes funding to reduce representation of Aboriginal children in care and continue to support self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians. This will include the transition of case management and expanded child protection functions of Aboriginal children in care to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as well as implementation of family support teams.These initiatives will help to support connections to culture, and self-determination for Aboriginal Victorians.  


Family Preservation and Reunification  

$51m in 2020-21 ($335.3m/4yrs) to help support earlier intervention in the children and families system to improve outcomes for Victorian children and reduce entries into outofhome care, including Aboriginal Cradle to Kinder and developing and delivering an outcomes-focused investment and commissioning approach to the delivery of intensive family preservation. 


Aboriginalmanaged family violence refuges   

$6m in 2020-21 ($18.2/4yrs) is provided for two new Aboriginal-managed and 13 redeveloped 24-hour access core and cluster refuges, due for completion in 2020-21, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.  


Aboriginal community-led responses within the youth justice system  

$1.5m in 2020-21 ($11.8m/4yrs) to establish and expand programs and supports to help reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system, which includes delivery of the Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy 


Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing 

$4.4m in 2020-21 to continue support for lapsing Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing programs, and to commence design of a new Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre.  


Marrung (Koorie Initiatives Package) 

$7.5m/2yrs to support the delivery of Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026 to improve the educational outcomes of Koorie students in Victoria. This includes funding to support the delivery of the Koorie Literacy and Numeracy Program, expanding the Koorie Pre-School Assistants Program to four new locations and increasing Koorie Engagement Support Officers to support schools to improve outcomes for Koorie students. 


Decriminalising public drunkenness  

$16m in 2020-21 to commence implementation of a health-based approach to public intoxication, including funding ACCOs to provide a culturally safe response to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.   


ACCHO COVID-19 response and recovery 

$22.6m in 2020-21 for ACCHOs to engage with Aboriginal communities, and the Community Activation and Social Isolation program, which connects people seeking emotional support with services and supports within their local government area.  


Targeted bushfire recovery 

The 2020-21 $14.9m Bushfire Mental Health Package will provide on-the-ground mental health support for bushfire-affected communities, including promoting Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing and delivering community inclusion and support 

The 2020-21 $97.2m Bushfire Recovery Program funding includes support for affected Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and businesses. 


New Aboriginal social housing 

The $5.3 billion Big Housing Build will see the construction of more than 12,000 new homes throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria, delivering 9,300 new social housing homes, with 10 per cent of the social housing allocation for Aboriginal housing. 


Support for Aboriginal businesses 

Part of the $2b Business Support package will establish a First Peoples’ COVID-19 Business Support Fund, offering grant payments of up to $10,000 to support the cashflow of Aboriginal businesses. 



Further policy directions 

In future budgets, even more can be done to progress the transition of services for Aboriginal people to Aboriginal community controlled organisations. The community services industry is working towards developing a Compact with ACCOs and is ready and willing to work with Government and the Aboriginal community-controlled sector to embed self-determination through transition of responsibility. 

There is unfinished business in addressing the criminalisation and overpolicing of Aboriginal people, and women in particularThe majority of these women are survivors of trauma, family violence and abuse. Additional funding for essential legal services for Aboriginal Victorians would help prevent legal problems escalating, address unmet need, and divert people from the justice system.  

Children as young as 10 do not belong in prison. Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 would help address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the youth justice system.