REGION - Aboriginal cultural heritage protection has received a major boost with the announcement of $120,000 in state government funding.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jeanette Powell made the announcement which includes $90,000 for Martang Pty Ltd, the smallest Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) in Victoria at Ararat's One Tree Hill last week.
Mrs Powell said the funding will help RAPs protect Aboriginal cultural heritage in the region.
"The Coalition government recognises the importance of protecting and maintaining the unique Aboriginal cultural heritage of Victoria," Mrs Powell said.
"Today's funding announcement of $90,000 will help Martang to continue to deliver important functions, including providing cultural heritage knowledge, education and understanding to a range of stakeholders and municipalities in Ararat, Pyrenees, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Northern Grampians."
Martang chairman Tim Chatfield said he welcomed the funding which was vital for making the cultural heritage plans they undertake possible.
"It is very pleasing due to the fact we are the smallest RAP in Victoria and under resourced," he said.
"It helps us with administration, running the organisation, paying for wages, salaries and to meet the responsibilities of our charter."
Mr Chatfield said the current cultural heritage plan concerned the Western Highway duplication between Buangor and Ararat.
"We are in the process of looking at the land between Buangor and Ararat because there is a lot of heritage that needs to be protected," he said.
"We continue to work well with the five shires when it comes to matters of development."
Martang has employed up to 30 casual and part time employees over the last seven years with work on a project by project basis, enlisting workers in the heritage field.
The organisation has conducted cultural heritage plans for the Crowlands Wind Farm Project, Ararat Wind Farm project and Hopkins Correctional Centre Development.
"We make recommendations in the findings to protect and preserve cultural heritage, this was particularly important for the Hopkins Correctional Centre Development which is a major infrastructure project for the local economy," Mr Chatfield said.
Mrs Powell was joined by Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay to announce the funding, which also included money for the second largest (Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation) Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAP) in the state.
"An additional $30,000 will also help the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation to continue the important work of providing cultural heritage knowledge, education and understanding to the nine municipalities across Wathuarung country," Mrs Powell said.
Mrs Powell met with the RAPs in Ararat and Ballarat along with Ararat City Council Mayor, Cr Ian Wilson, Mayor of Ballarat City Council, John Burt and local member Mr Ramsay.
Mr Ramsay said the $120,000 in funding will provide much needed support to both RAPs, particularly Martang Pty Ltd.
"Given the challenges associated with being the smallest RAP in Victoria, it is important that we work together to ensure Martang Pty Ltd's future viability and sustainability," Mr Ramsay said.
"The Coalition Government understands the importance of ensuring that Aboriginal people have a strong voice in managing their cultural heritage and that is why we are committed to supporting RAPs."
For more information on RAPs visit: http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-affairs-overview.