Wurundjeri Elders in possum cloaks along with Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, MLA for Richmond.
20/06/2017: A historic moment in the Victorian Parliament. Wurundjeri Elders address the Victorian Legislative Assembly in both English and Woi-wurrung language about their connection to the Yarra River and protecting the river for future generations. Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning gave the first reading 20/ June 2017.
21/09/2017: Parliament passes the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017
The Wurindjeri Elders’ presented the bill in a really moving address to Parliament, painted up and largely in Woi-wurrung language. They said Wilip-gin Birrarung murron means ‘Keep the Birrarung (Yarra) alive’. The new bill also has a preamble in Woi-wurrung, a first for this state. Fantastic. Watch the Wurundjeri Elders’ full address.
A Birrarung Council will advise government on the 242 kilometres of the Birrarung/Yarra river. The Council will be made up of traditional owners and representatives from environmental, farming and community bodies. To ensure the Council’s advice to the minister is truly independent, it will not have any government representatives sitting on it. Its members are selected by the environment minister for four-years, and can’t be removed unless they’re found to be unfit to hold office.
The Act is remarkable because it combines traditional owner knowledge with modern river management expertise, and treats the Yarra as one integrated living natural entity to be protected.
Local councils guidelines vary between municipalities and rules can easily be ignored or appealed. The Andrews government will set mandatory height restrictions on new properties, minimum setbacks for buildings, and controls to reduce overshadowing, particularly around the 41-kilometre stretch between Richmond and Warrandyte. The new guidelines in a Yarra River Action Plan will now be introduced into six local government schemes.
“We’re delivering on our commitment to protect the Yarra River for decades to come,” said Planning Minister Richard Wynne. “Tougher planning controls will ensure developments don’t compromise the beauty of our iconic natural treasure.”
A design and development overlay applied to private land around the river will prevent overshadowing at all times, require buildings to be set back 30–150 metres from the banks (depending on location), and set height restrictions 8–25 metres (area dependent). The mandatory controls will make it harder for developers to get a council permit or argue their case at VCAT.
See The Age report(25 Feb 2017) Tougher planning rules to protect Melbourne’s Yarra River by Farrah Tomazin.
See The Conversation (26 Sept 2017) New law finally gives voice to the Yarra River’s traditional owners by Katie O’Brien.