As our Country’s first people, Dja Dja Wurrung have an established place in society and are empowered to manage our own affairs.
Our Recognition and Settlement Agreement (Native Title) is an important milestone for Dja Dja Wurrung people and the Victorian Government now recognises us as the Traditional Owners of this Country and acknowledges the history of dispersement and dispossession that has affected our people. Our Agreement allows for continued recognition, through protocols and acknowledgements and Welcomes to Country, and signage on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
It also provides us with some legal rights to practice culture and access and use our land and resources,and to have a say in what happens on our Country. The Agreement gives us Aboriginal title of some of our traditional lands, including the right to actively managing Country. The Agreement is an important starting point for the self-determination of Dja Dja Wurrung, and we now continue to build up the structures and processes that will enable us to make the most of these rights.
The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation is our Tradition Owner entity and each Dja Dja Wurrung Family Group has right to a Director and Alternate Director positions to govern the Corporation.
The Corporation is the sole shareholder of Djandak (Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd), whose Board, has a majority of Dja Dja Wurrung people however there is the opportunity for us to include specialists’ to assist us develop successful viable business’s. This is a strong, well-governed corporation that effectively represents the interest of Dja Dja Wurrung people
Dja Dja Wurrung are a clearly identified group of people with well-defined goals and objectives, authority and leadership structures and we effectively implement the Dja Dja Wurrung Recognition and Settlement Agreement.
We work to secure Aboriginal title rights to all public lands in Dja Dja Wurrung Country and have an active and engaged community that participates in all aspects of society.
We are achieving self-determination and leaving behind the mission mentality that has previously underpinned our relationship with government and the broader community.
However, there are still challenges that we will need to overcome. We remain under-represented in many decision-making forums and our voices as Traditional Owners are often not heard.
Access to resources and rights are much lower for us than many of those with competing interests, which continues to limit our ability to negotiate fairly and participate equally in priority-setting. By strengthening and unifying our organisation and community, we will be in a better position to improve our standing and representation in governance and policy debates.
We will continue our work to increase the number of Dja Dja Wurrung representatives on decision-making boards and committees and the number of regional and local planning documents that incorporate Dja Dja Wurrung goals and priorities. We will also enter into Memoranda of Understanding with government agencies and authorities.
There are a number of principles which are critically important to Dja Dja Wurrung people as we collectively define our self-determination and philosophy for how our land and natural resources should be used and managed. They inform the way we engage with others who share our Country and are the foundation of our partnerships with government and non-government agencies, industry and community groups.
1. We uphold our cultural obligations to look after Country for future generations; to practice and revitalize our cultural traditions and customs; and to develop the expression of these into the future. We are not frozen in time.
2. All lands, waters and living resources on our Country form traditional Aboriginal landscapes and are maintained by a range of natural resource managers, including Dja Dja Wurrung people. Our partners must be clear and transparent about their rights and responsibilities in this regard.
3. We are committed to working with our Corporation and its members, Elders, young people, neighbours, agencies and the broader community in the effort to care for our Country.
4. We participate in the decisions that affect our rights; and will be cautious when considering proposals and options for using our Country and its resources in the absence of a full understanding of risks and consequences .
5. Our Country is managed in a contemporary context, to generate benefits in circumstances where degradation or destruction can be avoided. Where damage has been done through past activities, a sustained effort will be made to heal our Country.
6. Our use and management of medicinal and edible plants and animals remains a key element of our subsistence and development.
7. The conservation and protection of the environment, in particular where our culturally significant places and sites are located is paramount.
8. We will use both our traditions and the tools and practices available to us as citizens of contemporary Australia to sustainably manage our natural resources.
9. Visitors will be Welcome to respect and enjoy our Country.
10. We strive to maintain, control, protect and develop our traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
11. We exercise our right to freely pursue Dja Dja Wurrung economic and social development, the benefits of which will be shared equitably amongst Dja Dja Wurrung people, other local Aboriginal people and the wider regional community.
12. Infrastructure and enterprise development will be designed to minimise harmful impacts on our Country.