Policy Matters

GLaWAC has a responsibility to get the Gunaikurnai voice heard and included in government decision making. Your voice is important and we encourage you to have your say by getting involved in one of our Board sub-committees or reference groups, and share your knowledge on our journey to self-determination.

Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy

The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) and other mobs have been sitting down with Government to work out how to:

1. Return water to Traditional Owners.
2. Make sure Traditional Owners have a
seat at the table in managing water on Country.
3. Resource Traditional Owners to manage Country – GLaWAC water officers and cultural water rangers
4. Use cultural values important to
the Gunaikurnai to measure healthy
Country and in turn, drive Government funding for better cultural outcomes.

The final Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy will be released soon.

Look out for the ‘Healthy Country, Healthy Mob’ Chapter in the draft Strategy .

Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mine

In November last year, the Victorian Government announced it would not support the Fingerboards (Kalbar) Mineral Sands Mine.

In the lead up to the decision , GLaWAC made many representations, see below.

Sea Country

GLaWAC has been yarning with Government and sitting in on the Victorian Marine and Coastal Council meetings about Sea Country for months about what we want in the Victorian Government Marine and Coastal Strategy.

As a result, the draft Strategy identified six priority actions and almost 50 activities to be implemented over the next five years, including 14 activities which would be Traditional Owner-led. More than half of all activities include Traditional Owners as partners.

For GLaWAC many of the actions directly align with the objectives of the Whole of Country Plan. The draft strategy includes:
o   Sea Country ranger programs
o   Traditional Owners being appointed as land managers
o   Traditional Owner rights recognised.
o   Resourcing for working on Country
o   Support to monitor and manage land use and climate change impacts on Sea Country.
o   Having a say on management, planning and policy of Sea Country

If you want to talk to GLaWAC about Sea Country, you can ring or email
Alice Pepper – Email: Alice.Pepper@glawac.com.au | Mobile: 0417 760 231
Lisa Hocking – Email: Lisa.Hocking@glawac.com.au | Mobile: 0400 909 003

Public Land Review

The Victorian Government is looking to update it’s public land legislation, by creating a new Public Land Act.

DELWP have recently developed a discussion paper to set out initial proposals for enabling self-determination in the renewal of the legislation, for discussion with Traditional Owners.

You can read the proposal below.

Traditional Owners, including GLaWAC, are currently pushing to enhance and strengthen the outcomes of this review.

As with any of these policy matters, we welcome community input or advice.


Our commuinity was in the thick of the devastation of the fires in Gippsland, from fighting on the fire fronts, to protecting our assets and cultural heritage at Forestec, to helping each other heal in the aftermath.

Our three priorities are Fire response, Fire recovery and Healing Country.

With bushfire recovery projects up and running, we’re starting to yarn about ways to heal Country and community.

GLaWAC has an approved governance structure on how we will have a strong voice into Government regarding Fire Recovery and future Country Management. Here are some key updates on where we are in the fire space.


Gunaikurnai need access to water to restore customary practices, protect cultural values and uses and ownership for self-determination. To pave the way to self-determination, how water is shared and managed by Government needs to change.

GLaWAC is working alongside DELWP on a number of projects, including how to plan for and share water in the future (Sustainable Water Strategy), and both cultural values and uses and water for economic development, under the State Government Aboriginal Water Policy.

GLaWAC has been yarning a fair bit over the last couple of years about water and we want to hear your ideas.

If you want to be involved in the Water Knowledge Holder Group and share your views about how water is managed on your Country, please fill out the form above and GLaWAC will get in touch.

Forest Cultural Values and Uses

Our people have deep knowledge of, and an inherent responsibility to look after Country. We take only what we need and know to leave some for others.

GLaWAC is exploring how best to communicate cultural values and uses to State Government so Gunaikurnai priorities are fully considered in forest management decision making.

Community sharing knowledge about plants with cultural values and uses, and being able to monitor plants of cultural significance is a way to yarn about the health of cultural landscapes being impacted by changes in the way land is currently being used.


Gunaikurnai have a cultural obligation to look after Country, though we understand that we currently have to work within the whitefella laws of land management.

GLaWAC are working to influence policy areas that manage forests and make sure government know how our members want forests managed in the future.

Mobs around Victoria, chaired by former GLaWAC CEO Roger Fenwick, signed off the Cultural Landscape Strategy to provide clear direction to Government, and tools for Mobs.

The Victorian Government’s Forest Management Planning for East Gippsland and Gippsland is about to start – it’s been on hold following the fires.

We encourage all members to get involved in one of our sub-committees or reference groups, and come along to yarning sessions and on Country visits to share your knowledge and make your voice heard about these important matters.

Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation

What’s going to happen to the Valley coal mines once they close is a huge issue for GLaWAC.

There’s a lot of talk about filling them with water – what do you want to see?

The Victorian Government has announced an Environmental Effects Statement into the Hazelwood mine rehabilitation.

GLaWAC has been meeting with Government and has made public submissions to express our views on behalf of our members. The most recent submission (below) was in response to questions and answers posed by the Government.

If you want to talk to GLaWAC about the Latrobe mines rehabilitation, reach out. We’ve been having meetings on Country to talk through what mine rehabilitation might mean for GLaWAC, and will be developing a position statement.

First Principles Review

GLaWAC is working with other Traditional Owners and the state in reviewing the components of Traditional Owners Settlement Act. This is separate to the review of the Gunaikurnai Settlement Agreement which our Elders and Board have commenced and has been previously shared in our members magazine.

Wildlife Act Review

The Wildlife Act 1975 sets the rules around how native animals are protected, managed or used in Victoria is currently being independently reviewed to bring it into step with modern day views and practices.

In Victoria, two pathways allow Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians to use wildlife. The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), for example, allows Native Title holders to hunt, fish, gather or conduct cultural activities. And Traditional Owners acting under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may be authorised to take native wildlife and game resources without an authorisation or licence and are exempt from most offences under the Wildlife Act.

However, these pathways do not cover the wildlife related cultural activities of all Traditional Owners or Aboriginal Victorians. Nor do they support commercial use of wildlife.

GLaWAC have provided input into the review which you can read below. You can also read the Panel Issues Paper to find out more about the full scope of the review.

How to have a say

If you would like to provide input, share knowledge on these matters, or if you are interested in joining one of our Board sub-committees or reference groups, please send us a message using the form below.