A new era of looking after the Yarra River


22 June 2017

The introduction of the Yarra River (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Protection Bill to the Victorian Parliament today signals the start of a new era of protecting Victoria’s most famous waterway, Environmental Justice Australia and the Yarra Riverkeeper said today.

The ground-breaking Yarra River (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Protection Bill was introduced to the Victorian Parliament today where Wurundjeri elders welcomed it in language.

“Environmental Justice Australia and the Yarra Riverkeeper warmly welcome the introduction of this Bill and urge all Victorian parliamentarians to give it their support,” said EJA lawyer Bruce Lindsay.

“The Yarra is Greater Melbourne’s most important green corridor, it remains culturally important and is loved by people across the state.

“The Yarra was used as an industrial sewer for a long time – its flows significantly modified, its connections to wetlands disrupted, its governance fragmented – yet there was the foresight to reserve the upper catchment, to maintain public lands and bushland along the corridor and more recently to establish environmental flows for the river.

“The Act will set up an integrated, landscape framework for governance of the Yarra, guided by environmental and social principles and subject to long-term planning,” Dr Lindsay said.

“The Act provides the opportunity for institutional reform in governance of the river, including a Birrarung River Council to advise on and monitor management of the river and its environs.

“This proposed law represents a world-leading example of urban river management,” said Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly.

“It provides a real basis on which we can overcome fragmented and constrained management of Melbourne’s largest green corridor.

“Since early 2015, Environmental Justice Australia and the Yarra Riverkeeper Association have worked together on a Yarra River law to improve the management and governance of the river, with long-term perspective and strong outcomes for the environment and public.

“Getting the involvement of the community – friends groups, environment groups, residents’ groups, organisations involved in managing particular places along the river – at every step of the way has been central to the process.

“The Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Environmental Justice Australia welcome the key role for the Wurundjeri Tribal Council under the new Act, in recognition of the unbroken custodianship of the Traditional Owners of the river (Birrarung) since time immemorial,” Mr Kelly said.

Read Bruce's blog: Community involvement a key to Yarra's health


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