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Environment Victoria’s First Nations Solidarity Plan

Environment Victoria is located on the land of the Kulin Nation and works on country belonging to many Aboriginal nations. We pay our respects to First Nations Elders past, present, and emerging, and recognise their continuing contribution to caring for country. We acknowledge that their sovereignty has never been ceded.

We recognise our responsibility to use our power and our privilege to support Traditional Owners achieve land justice, address inequality and build power to make decisions about country and culture. We are committed through our 2017-22 strategy to finding opportunities to work with Traditional Owners, communities and representative bodies to achieve shared environmental outcomes and justice for First Nations people.

Each year we will update this First Nations Solidarity Plan with our priority actions for the next year, publish it online and report on our progress in meeting commitments of the previous year. We will include this plan in the organisation’s Annual Plan and reporting cycle.

We welcome feedback on this plan from First Nations people and their allies – please contact c.warambourg@environmentvictoria.org.au or h.sestokas@environmentvictoria.org.au.

Our priority actions for the year ahead are:

1. Backing First Nations independence, movements, organisations and power. We will:

  1. Turn up to First Nations-organised events and actions to learn more about their campaigns. Where possible, take opportunities presented to us by First Nations groups to listen, learn and provide solidarity.
  2. Amplify stories about First Nations people’s relationship to country and their priorities.
  3. Recognise First Nations dates of significance, including through communications to our supporters.
  4. Audit Environment Victoria’s procurement to look for opportunities to purchase from First Nations businesses.
  5. Investigate options to Pay the Rent financially or in-kind.

2. Delivering shared environmental and social justice outcomes. We will:

  1. Engage with Gunai Kurnai traditional owners and the wider Latrobe valley Koori community to build relationships and formal channels of communication, identify shared interests and, if possible, support collaboration on our Beyond Coal campaign  
  2. Existing partnerships with traditional owners will continue to shape our work in the Murray-Darling Basin and development of long term strategy 
  3. Develop detail of work we’re doing to develop relationships with Victorian First Nations peak bodies 
  4. Ensure our campaign planning processes guide and support good collaboration

3. Taking steps towards becoming a more inclusive organisation and movement, and supporting self-determination of First Nations people. We will:

  1. Engage Environment Victoria employees in continuous cultural learning opportunities to increase understanding and appreciation of First Nations cultures, histories, achievements and struggles, and the structural implications of racism. This will include providing cultural awareness training for all staff, and where possible, Board members, volunteers and members.
  2. Develop protocols to ensure consistent, culturally appropriate communications and engagement across the organisation, including in relation to Acknowledgement of Country, Welcome to Country ceremonies, use of First Nations place names and remuneration.
  3. Annually update this plan with our priority actions for the next year, publish it online and report on our progress in meeting commitments of the previous year.
  4. Integrate First Nations solidarity work into our 5 Year Plan, and ensure alignment with Diversity and Inclusion work.
  5. Provide leadership development for volunteer Local Organisers which better enables our Action Network to develop relationships and take actions of solidarity.
  6. Explore opportunities to learn from and positively influence the First Nations solidarity work of movement allies.