Gunaikurnai people have occupied, used and managed coastal land and sea environments for many thousands of years. These include those areas that were dry land before the current sea level stabilised about 5,000 years ago. Our relationship with these cultural landscapes continues, even where the evidence of our previous occupation now lies beneath the ocean.
We see no distinction between the land and the sea. It is all a part of our Country.
– Whole of Country Plan
Water that falls on traditional lands is Gunaikurnai water. We have never ceded our rights to land or water.
Without water, there is no life. Water returned to the Gunaikurnai means healthy Country, healthy Mob.
A historic win for our mob
In November, GLaWAC, on behalf of our members, received two gigalitres of unallocated water in the Mitchell River in East Gippsland.
This is a momentous outcome for the Gunaikurnai that recognises the importance of gaining rights to water to restore customary practices, protect cultural values and uses, gain economic independence and heal Country.
We see this as an enormous first step to achieving the water objectives of the Gunaikurnai, and we thank the Victorian Government who we have been working closely with since it released the ‘Water for Victoria’ policy.
We look forward to yarning with the Gunaikurnai Community and being able to self-determine how and where the water can help achieve priorities for healthy Country and healthy mob.
Cultural Water Program
The Water Team at GLAWAC are currently working to reconnect Traditional Owners and Aboriginal community members to water in the Latrobe Valley and South Gippsland. Together, we do an Aboriginal water assessment on the rivers, sharing knowledge and talking about what community may know about the waterways, so that we can learn from them.
Every time we visit a river it’s about culture, about genealogy and about the clans groups and where they come from and where they sit in the landscape.
This knowledge allows us to talk to government about ways to put the management of water back in the hands of the Gunaikurnai; and shows why it’s so important that we have better outcomes for the rivers and wetlands on Gunaikurnai Country.
Rivers and waterways are vitally important to Aboriginal people. It’s part of our culture and culture to us is in everything that we do.