Taungurung Traditional Owners in Victoria have secured the biggest native title settlement in the state’s history in a deal worth nearly $34 million.

They are now formally recognised as the Traditional Owners of a large area of central Victoria, with the settlement area stretching from Rochester and Kyneton in the west, to Bright in the east, Euroa in the north, and to Kinglake in the south.

Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Matt Burns said it was an opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the Taungurung community through employment, investments, and allocating returns into community programs in areas like education and health support.

“The benefits of this settlement will come in many forms through management of parks, employment of park rangers and operational staff, control and decision-making rights on Crown land, but more importantly, pride,” Mr Burns said.

“Pride that while not all people made it to the end of this journey who began it, the pride that the Taungurung people persevered and saw this to the end.”

The settlement was completed under the Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement Act (2010), which allows for out-of-court native title settlements recognising the rights of Victorian Traditional Owners.

First Nations Legal and Research Services lawyer Dan Kelly, who negotiated Taungurung’s claim, said Taungurung people now had rights to access Crown land to hunt, fish, camp, and gather natural resources.

“This recognition is a significant milestone because it provides Taungurung with formal recognition by the State of Victoria and brings to an end their struggle to obtain rights over their own land,” he said.

“This settlement refocuses the relationship between the State and Traditional Owners and gives greater recognition to Traditional Owner rights over country and self-determination compared to previous settlements, so we hope it sets a new benchmark for future settlements to be resolved more efficiently.”

“We must remember that while this resolves land issues on Taungurung Country, and is a massive milestone, the journey isn’t over yet. We’re yet to see a Treaty with the State to finally settle our First Peoples’ dispossession of their land.”