Landmark legislation to protect the Yarra River

Image source: Australian Society of Anaesthetists

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne joined Wurundjeri elders in Victorian Parliament today to introduce the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill 2017.

The Yarra River holds a special place in Victoria’s heart and is part of our first people’s rich story. It has a celebrated history, and we’re giving it a safe and secure future.

In an Australian first, the Bill identifies the Yarra River and the many hundreds of parcels of public land it flows through as one living, integrated natural entity for protection and improvement.

The Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill combines the ‘Caring for Country’ wisdom of Traditional Owners with the most modern river management expertise.

For the first time in the Victorian Parliament’s history, the Bill is co-titled and part of its preamble is written in Woi-wurrung, assuring Traditional Owners a permanent voice in the governance and protection of the Yarra River.

The Bill will strengthen the protection and management of the Yarra River by:

  • developing a Yarra Strategic Plan to coordinate 14 public entities that operate along the river corridor;
  • establishing a new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, to act as an independent voice for the river;
  • requiring regular reporting by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on the environmental condition of the river and its parklands;
  • designating the parklands and open space along the river as the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands; and
  • ensuring future governments protect the Yarra River.

The Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability will report on the environmental condition and benefits of the Yarra River and its parklands as part of the regular State of the Environment reporting, commencing with a baseline in the 2018 report. 

Please visit our Facebook page to watch Aboriginal elders in the Victorian Parliament.