GLAWAC POLICY AND PROGRAM PRIORITIES 2020
Throughout the year GLaWAC works to get the Gunaikurnai voice heard and included in government decisions, including where we can at the grassroots when policy is being developed.
The big ticket items for 2020 so far include fire, forests, water and mines.
GLaWAC is also working with other Traditional Owners on the First Principals Review.
Under the new Parks Vic Act, a Land Management Strategy has to be done by Parks Victoria every 10 years. And to fit in with this, DELWP is currently doing a Forest Modernisation Policy. These two policy documents are due to be released for public comment over the next couple of months.
DELWP has also asked the Federation of Traditional Owners to draft a “Cultural Landscape Strategy” with Traditional Owners. GLaWAC is looking how it can best represent Gunaikurnai in these statewide documents.
Regionally, DELWP is doing Forest Management Plans (one for Gippy, one for East Gippy). The timeline for these regional plans has been extended due to the fires. The Gippsland and East Gippsland Forest Management Plans have five key themes:
- Natural environment
- Cultural identify and history
- Experience and recreation
- Resources livelihood
- Human life and safety
For the local plans, GLaWAC will have a seat at the table alongside DELWP, once the plans get underway. How the pieces talk to each other: forest policy diagram
Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy
Recently, the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (LVRRS) and the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Water Study have sought public submissions on proposals on how to rehabilitate the mine pits, and the region, as the coal mines close.
GLaWAC has made submissions to express our views, see the most recent submission which was in response to Questions and Answers posed by the Government here:
Our understanding is the draft Latrobe Valley RRS is expected to be released in June for public consultation. GLaWAC’s role in the Rehabilitation Strategy has included Troy McDonald having a place at the table on the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Advisory Committee, which reports directly to the Minister for Resources. There’s an opportunity for another Gunaikurnai rep on the committee, if you’re keen and want more information you can contact Troy directly (you can ring through GLaWAC).
GLaWAC has been in the thick of the devastation of the fires in Gippsland, from our employees who were fighting on the fire fronts, to helping Community in the aftermath, and protecting our assets and cultural heritage at Forestec. Our three priorities are:
- Fire response
- Fire recovery
- Healing Country
At the moment, we’re pretty much in fire recovery stage, and starting to have some yarns on Healing Country. Here’s some key updates on where we are in the fire space: TO Bushfire response forum final statement 6Feb
GLaWAC’s approved governance structure on how we will have a strong Voice into Government regarding Fire Recovery and future Country Management: 2002_Bushfire_Recovery_Aboriginal_RG_Sheet_for_Community_Members _140220
Forest Cultural Values and Uses
As part of the State looking at how forests are managed, GLaWAC is exploring how best to communicate “cultural values and uses” to Government so Gunaikurnai priorities are fully considered in forest management decision making.
In December we spent two days in the Lake Tyers State Park, along the Lonely Bay Track and at the campgrounds testing how we want to monitor plants of cultural significance.
A big outcome was knowledge sharing about plants with cultural values and uses.
GLaWAC drafted a Forest Assessment, along the lines of an Aboriginal Waterway Assessment as a possible way to yarn about the health of cultural landscapes under impact from land use change.
Stage two of the project will be to complete Forest Assessments and establish some pilot monitoring sites.
GLaWAC, supported by GEGAC, convened community meetings in March 2019 to ensure the proponent had received our views. We also heard answers from Government and Kalbar regarding the proposal. The Q&A sessions that came out of this meeting are available here along with the process presentation that was delivered by government.
Currently our key positions are contained in the interim position statement endorsed by the GLaWAC Board and in summary reflects the Traditional Owners beliefs . Kalbar have offered further onsite briefings with Elders and Community however due to COVID have been unable to action at this stage.
GLaWAC are not comfortable with this mine progressing however if government decides it will go ahead, GLaWAC will ensure appropriate compensation, employment and future management opportunities for the site are made available to Traditional Owners.
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.
How to have a say
Gunaikurnai community members are welcome to contact GLaWAC at any time to be involved in our Board subcommittees to discuss what matters to you about Country.
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 the Gunaikurnai Settlement Agreement which our Elders and Board have commenced and has been shared in members magazine previously.
Further detail to both will follow.