Department of Health

What is meant by Aboriginal self-determination?

  • 20 December 2017
  • Duration: 3:27
  • [Instrumental music plays in the background over opening titles and fades out]

    [Opening title card: Victoria State Government]

    [Second title card: 'Aboriginal self-determination seminars 2016'] ]

    [Third title card : 'What is meant by Aboriginal self-determination?']

    Female narrator MURIEL BAMBLETT: We know that self-determination is an abstract principle, which we have to realise through our own decision-making and actions every day of our lives. It isn't something which appears by magic or happens overnight, but it is achieved through hard work and struggle. It is as much a process as it is a destination in terms of specific goals, which are about building on our cultural values, our beliefs, our traditions, our communities and our culture.

    [Onscreen, animation entitled: 'Muriel Bamblett - CEO of Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency']

    Male narrator ANDREW JACKOMOS: For me the concept of self-determination and its interpretation can have different meanings on a personal basis, on a family basis, on a clan basis, community and national basis. I don't know what is wrong, what's right, what sounds better with self-determination and not sure in fact if there is a right or wrong.

    [Onscreen, animation entitled: 'Andrew Jackomos PSM - Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People']

    Female narrator: LARISSA BEHRENDT: When we've often asked questions around, you know, if there is a treaty what would that look like.. self-determination what does that mean, what does sovereignty mean to you. We get this, what I call, a spectrum of aspirations that come into three different categories. There are, what I would call a set of equality rights, so things like the right not to be discriminated against, the right to be free from racism. And then there would be, I guess conceptually, a group of what we might call more cultural rights. So they would be things like rights to heritage, to have my culture protected, rights to my language, as a native title owner I want to be able to have a say about what happens on my land, so in that cluster of rights around heritage protection. And then there would be a group of what we might call governance or autonomy rights where people would say things like, I want the right to have a say in policies that affect me, if laws are being made about my people I want to have a say.

    [Onscreen, animation entitled: 'Larissa Behrendt - Professor of Indigenous Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney']

    Female Narrator MURIEL BAMBLETT: Self-determination for us is about choice that can exercised in different ways. It can be about sovereignty and self-government, and that's control of our social, economic and political. It can be about self-management and self-administration. It can be in our community and our service delivery in civil services. It can be in co-management and joint management which embeds Aboriginal participation in the management of our lands, our resources, of our cultural revival, of our survival and maintenance of culture. It can also be in a participation in public government models that offers opportunities to influence government policies. So self-determination can take many forms.

    Male Narrator ANDREW JACKOMOS: For me a treaty between our community and the broader Victorian community would and could be the ultimate expression of self-determination. It is a fight over real self-determination over the transfer of resources, transfer of responsibility and recognition of our rights. Commitment and right words around self-determination by government and this department are on the right path, but its actual practice that will make a difference for our children.

    Female narrator: MURIEL BAMBLETT: If you give human rights to me, does it take anything away from you? And if you think about that in a self-determination point of view if you give me self-determination does it take anything away from you?

    [Instrumental music fades in over the closing titles]

    [Closing title card: :'Aboriginal self-determination seminars 2016']

    [Second closing title card: Victoria State Government]

    [Third closing title card: Authorised by the Department of Health & Huma Services. 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne]

Aboriginal self-determination means many things to many people. In this video, three of Victoria's most respected Aboriginal leaders discuss the concept as a conceptual framework, an ultimate goal, a process and the implications for policy and practices aimed at improving health, wellbeing and safety outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

Reviewed 20 December 2017


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