Aboriginal Self-Determination

Aboriginal self-determination and the family violence reform


Aboriginal people know what is best for themselves, their families and communities. We acknowledge the right of Aboriginal Victorians to have decision-making control over the issues that affect their lives.

Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework

Family violence has a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal people in Victoria, particularly women and children, regardless of whether they live in rural, regional or urban areas.  

Victorian Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to experience family violence and, where violence occurs, 25 times more likely to be killed or injured than non-Aboriginal women. 

We acknowledge that colonisation, dispossession, child removal and other discriminatory government policies have resulted in significant intergenerational trauma, structural disadvantage and racism with long-lasting and far-reaching consequences. We recognise that family violence is not part of Aboriginal culture and that family violence against Aboriginal people is perpetrated by both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people.     

Embedding Aboriginal self-determination in the family violence reform aims to ensure a holistic, culturally safe approach to our delivery of prevention, response and intervention activities. 

In a family violence context, Aboriginal self-determination requires a systemic shift of power and control from government and the non-Aboriginal service sector. It requires the transfer of power, control, decision-making and resources to Aboriginal communities and their organisations.

The bigger picture 

Victoria has a nation-leading agenda to progress Aboriginal self-determination. In partnership with Aboriginal Victorians we are creating policies and establishing structures that put Aboriginal communities at the heart of decision-making on the matters that affect their lives.  

The necessary reform to achieve and embed Aboriginal self-determination is large and will take time. Perhaps most significantly, this is being progressed through the Victorian Government’s commitment to advancing a treaty process with Aboriginal Victorians via: 


  • Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018.
  • Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission. 


  • Establishing the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.


  • Developing a truth and justice process for Aboriginal Victorians to reckon with injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal Victorians. 
  • Commencing formal treaty discussions.

Since 2014, the Victorian Government has been committed to self-determination as the guiding principle in Aboriginal affairs. This is expressed in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 (VAAF), which recognises government practices and institutions have systematically discriminated and excluded Aboriginal people.  

The VAAF commits government to undertake systemic and structural transformation to better enable self-determination. The VAAF applies to the family violence reforms.  

The VAAF identifies four critical enablers for self-determination which require government action:  

  • prioritise culture 
  • address trauma and support healing  
  • address racism and promote cultural safety 
  • transfer power and resources to communities 

Aboriginal self-determination and the family violence reform

Systemic change to embed these enablers will take time. However, family violence reform activities are working to progress the enablers and to support the achievement of key VAAF goals. For example: 

Nargneit Birrang Family Violence Holistic Healing Framework

  • launched in 2019 
  • an Aboriginal-led, culturally safe initiative to​ develop holistic healing approaches for Aboriginal families, children and young people to respond to trauma and promote wellbeing 

Umalek Balit  

  • a Magistrates’ Court service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men who are attending for family violence related proceedings 
  • available at Melbourne, Mildura, Ballarat and Shepparton Magistrates’ Courts 

Aboriginal Housing Victoria

  • During 2020 we completed the handover of 1448 properties from the Victorian Director of Housing to Aboriginal Housing Victoria. 

Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families 

  • It is one of the 10 Rolling Action Plan priority areas for 2020-2023.
  • Dhelk Dja is an Aboriginal-led agreement to address family violence in Aboriginal communities. 
  • It commits Aboriginal services and government to work together and be accountable for ensuring Aboriginal people, families and communities are stronger, safer, thriving and free from family violence. 
  • Dhelk Dja is built upon the foundation of Aboriginal self-determination. 
  • The Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund is for eligible Victorian Aboriginal organisations and community groups. 
  • It funds a range of Aboriginal-led tailored responses for victim survivors and people who use violence.  
Two young women performing an Aboriginal dance

Royal Commission into Family Violence  

The Victorian Government has committed to implement all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.   

Of the recommendations left to be implemented, five relate to Dhelk Dja.   

Download the frameworks

Connections to existing strategies 

The Self-Determination Reform Framework and the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018 are both critical to Victoria’s commitment to self-determination and support delivering self-determination across government.  

They work alongside and align to existing strategies, including:

Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families

  • 10-year Aboriginal-led family violence agreement

Korin Korin Balit-Djak (Growing very strong)

  • Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety strategic plan 2017–2027  

Wungurilwil Gapgapduir (Strong families)

  • Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement

Reviewed 19 April 2021

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