EPA acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First peoples and Traditional custodians of the land and water on which we live, work and depend. We pay respect to their Elders past and present.
As Victoria’s environmental regulator, we pay respect to how Country has been protected and cared for by Aboriginal people over many tens of thousands of years.
We acknowledge the unique spiritual and cultural significance of land, water and all that is in the environment to Aboriginal people and Traditional custodians. We recognise their intrinsic connection to and aspirations for Country.
About EPA’s Aboriginal Inclusion Action Plan 2019-2022
In 2019, EPA commenced a 3 year Aboriginal Inclusion Action Plan- and planning is underway to develop a successor plan in collaboration with Traditional owners.
The vision of the Aboriginal Inclusion Action Plan is to ensure that Traditional Owner cultural knowledge and environmental stewardship is recognised and part of EPA’s regulatory work in protecting human health and environment from the harmful effects of pollution and waste.
Our objectives are to:
- build strong, ongoing and effective relationships with Traditional Owners and custodians
- increase understanding and respect across EPA for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander culture, as the First peoples
- develop regulatory approaches that include Traditional Owners and custodians perspectives and values
- increase the number of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people that we employ, in a culturally safe and inclusive workplace
- build a robust framework for how we report on and measure our work to include Traditional Owners and First peoples.
A program of work has been developed which has the following priority areas:
- Cultural awareness and safety — This recognises our need to ensure our staff understand Aboriginal history and culture as a foundation for developing respectful and informed engagements with Traditional owners.
- Partnerships and engagement — We are strengthening our relationships with Traditional Owners by learning ‘on Country’, about ‘Country’ and the priorities that Traditional Owners have for preventing harm and healing of Country.
- Regulatory inclusion — We are seeking opportunities for collaboration in shared ways of protecting human health and the environment that include Traditional Owner cultural values as part of our approach to environmental protection.
- Workforce inclusion — We are seeking opportunities to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s opportunities to join EPA’s workforce.
An outcome of our engagements with Traditional Owners is a pilot program, ‘Environment Protection on Country’ (EPOC) . We are working with Traditional Owners to ensure the opportunities under the Environment Protection Act 2017, achieve outcomes for the prevention of harm and healing of Country.
Reviewed 9 December 2022