The Board acknowledges the Yorta Yorta people as the Traditional Owners of the Barmah National Park and we pay our respects to the Yorta Yorta Elders, both past and present.
“The life source and spirit of Yorta Yorta people centres on the land along the Murray River (which they know as Dunghala) in the Murray Goulburn region. The Yorta Yorta Nation, the second most populous Indigenous language group in Australia, can trace their origins and history back in time to this unique part of northern Victoria and southern New South Wales”.
The establishment of the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board has been “the accumulation of a total of 17 separate attempts by Yorta Yorta people to have a say in the management of their traditional land. In 1984 a claim was prepared by the Yorta Yorta Tribal Council, for the return of Barmah Forest to its traditional owners and prior to that an unsuccessful claim to the same area, including the Moira Forest in NSW was made to the Victorian government in 1975 by the Aborigines Advancement League”.
“The 1984 claim and all other claims have had the same intent. The Yorta Yorta people have exercised their natural rights as the Indigenous occupants and owners of the forest. Furthermore, the Yorta Yorta have shown through oral, documentary and material evidence that their social, spiritual, economic and cultural links with the area have not been broken since time immemorial. In other words, they can clearly demonstrate that their relationship with the area has been long and continuous”.Wayne Atkinson¹.
The establishment of the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board has delivered management to its rightful owners to jointly manage and support the aspirations of Yorta Yorta Elders and community to once again care for country.
The Board also acknowledges the connections to the Barmah National Park and the Murray River for a wide range of local and broader communities – neighbouring landholders and local communities, parks users and many others. For all of these people, the Barmah National Park holds a particular significance, both as an important area in its own right, and also as a key element of wider ecological and community systems of the Murray River.
¹Dr Wayne Atkinson.
The Victorian government agrees that Yorta Yorta connections to country can and does facilitate improved decisions that can address specific and complex environmental issues and problems. It is also agreed that the process of integrating diverse forms of knowledge can lead to and result in enhanced skills and aspirations for Yorta Yorta people.