Traditional owners are slamming what they say is an unprecedented show of disrespect in a government green light to change official country borders.
Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation chairman Patrick Fagan said there was no proper consultation nor negotiations with neighbouring traditional owner groups for a border variation with Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.
Eastern Marr oversees country to the west of land overseen by Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, which trades as Wadawaurrung, extending through Ararat.
Mr Fagan said Wadawurrung traditional owners were frustrated with Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council's decision to approve an Eastern Maar extension, despite strong objections from Wadawurrung people ahead of the council's February meeting.
He said the council had previously sought traditional owner groups work on such issues together or via he Aboriginal Victoria's Right People for Country program and no reasoning had been given on the decision.
In The Courier seeking clarification, the Aboriginal Affairs Department confirmed Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council had voted to extend the Registered Aboriginal Party registration area for Eastern Maar, however, the extended area did not impede on existing RAP regions.
A government spokesperson said it was Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council's responsibility "as an independent statutory body to make decisions regarding Registered Aboriginal Party applications".
The council makes decisions independent of government and the Aboriginal Affairs Minister had no power to intervene or overrule a council decision.
The council is required to follow the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, with decisions subject to review by the Supreme Court.
Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation as a RAP is responsible for maintaining, protecting and promoting cultural heritage across Wadawurrung country.
This is completely separate from Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative, which delivers health, social, welfare and community development programs to all Aboriginal people living in the region.
The corporation received a $150,000 state government grant on Monday to update its unassuming base at the top of Mair Street, near Coles.
This tired space is where traditional owners consult in billions of dollars of infrastructure development across the region.
This funding boost will allow the organisation to create more private meeting spaces and freshen-up interiors.
Wauthaurung Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Paul Davis said this would help better promote the region's traditional owners without having to dip into the organisation's limited funds.
"It's a little bit tired here. We're dealing with a lot of development issues, of many billions of dollars in fact and the space we do that in here is pretty shabby," Mr Davis said. "We think we ought to have professional workplace to present to our various stakeholders and members."
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said it was important traditional owners have an appropriate, fit-for-purpose place to meet in Ballarat, particularly to better promote and support self-determination. Ms Addison said this was all part of moving towards reconciliation through recognition and greater respect.
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