A south-west native title group will seek financial benefits from natural resources like gas and ownership of key Great Ocean Road infrastructure as part of a negotiated deal to end poverty for Aboriginal people.
The Eastern Maar traditional owner group lodged a native title claim in 2012 on behalf of Framlingham's Ivan Couzens and other families.
The group was given state government permission in November 2017 to negotiate a recognition and settlement agreement covering land from east of Lorne to west of Port Fairy and to north of Stawell.
Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation is chaired by former AFL high-flyer Jason Mifsud and its board includes former Australian Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark.
Interested groups and individuals across the south-west have now been contacted to participate.
Mr Clark said Eastern Maar represented family units and aimed to bring about a just and peaceful settlement of outstanding issues.
He said as well as protecting eel trap sites at Condah and Framlingham and protected sites like the mouth of the Hopkins River, Eastern Maar also wanted to look at future economically sustainable activities in western Victoria which could include parcels of land.
Mr Clark said areas of interest included the Grampians/Gariwerd and the Great Ocean Road which he believed could bring about socio-economic change for Aboriginal people who believed they were entitled to as traditional owners.
He said the negotiations, whether under native title or treaty, could include the rights to take resources like eel, abalone and crayfish.
"We want to negotiate with the state and that could be considered under a treaty process or land use agreement," he said.
"We can't continue to be fringe dwellers. We have to have a major say in the use of the resources and how they are developed.
"We want a fair look back during the process to sustain Aboriginal people into the future.
"How do we get out of the poverty trap? We have to become part of the regional economy, we have to have greater input into the development of the economy."
The former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairman said a negotiated treaty could be a positive platform because the scope of native title was narrow.
He said questions about how to extend the Great Ocean Road and tourism in general through the use of Aboriginal attractions had to be considered.
"We have been involved in tourism but now we are not just tour guides on buses, we're talking about owning the buses," he said.
"We want ownership in the resource, whether that be parcels and we're talking to golf clubs and the racing industry.
"We may want to become involved in those, but we need to be creative. When we talk about resources we're saying there needs to be negotiations about gas and other resources.
"This is not about the noble savage sitting on a rock and pulling out a couple of crayfish."
Mr Clark said he had been impressed by SBS and the ABC's coverage of NAIDOC week activities last week.
"The fear factor is gone in Aboriginal involvement and that is greatly encouraging," he said.
"People need to come to the process with an open mind. This is not about black fellas taking whatever someone else might consider dear.
"We want an inclusive not exclusive model."
Mr Clark said everything was on the table and open to discussion.
"We want to negotiate a future for Aboriginal people and it may be of benefit that the local member of parliament (Roma Britnell) worked in our community for 15-odd years," he said.
"Things have moved on and people need to move with it. This should be a non-threatening but enhancing process.
"We want to recognise opportunities and partner with those involved. We want to partner up to share the benefits," he said.
Victorian Rock Lobster Association president Markus Nolle, who lives and works out of Apollo Bay as a cray fisherman, said if the established rules of native title were followed the Eastern Maar claim would be restricted.
"If those established principles are followed I'm not too fussed," he said.
"There are native title principles in place in the nature of sharing resources for customary and traditional use for personal and community needs."
Mr Nolle said pre-existing common law rights like crayfish quota could not be taken away and only in exceptional circumstances would exclusive rights be granted.
He said he recognised the legitimate right to a native title claim but access and how that would be managed was of paramount importance considering that resources had to be managed sustainably.
"You can't have someone turn up to take a slice of the pie/quota. That's got to come from somewhere, bought or reallocated under the government," he said.
"Under native title the ocean can't be taken over. We're talking about reasonable and customary indigenous use.
"I don't see a cut and dry case of automatically taking ownership and certainly not exclusive ownership."
Mr Nolle said Mr Clark's position was a logical starting point but there were two separate issues - native title and then how to better integrate and share socio economic wealth with Aboriginal people.
"I sympathise with indigenous people when they say they want to sort this out, but the devil will be in the detail," he said.
"There are issues that need to be addressed, but how do we do that and what's it look like?"
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