A Victorian parks Joint Management Plan developed for six Dja Dja Wurrung-owned national and state parks in central Victoria has been announced as a finalist in their year’s Banksia Sustainability Awards, under the Indigenous Award category.

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Produced by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board, the plan is a product of four years' collaborative work and advances developments in land management planning by using both science and traditional knowledge to deliver more sustainable parks management.

The plan aims to reintroduce cultural burning practices in partnership with the Victorian Government, drawing on traditional owner ecological knowledge to manage fuel loads.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Parks are: Greater Bendigo National Park; Hepburn Regional Park; Kara Kara National Park; Kooyoora State Park; Paddys Ranges State Park; and Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve.

"These parks include some of the Dja Dja Wurrung People's most important cultural landscapes, but they are also of enormous significance for all Victorians," Chairman of the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board and Victorian elder Mr Graham Atkinson said.

"The plan provides Dja Dja Wurrung People the opportunity to be actively involved in not only managing these parks in the future, but explaining them and sharing them with all Australians."

The plan was created for the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board by the CSIRO, drawing on the expertise of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Djandak Enterprises, and Conservation Management. In creating the plan, the Board consulted widely to balance the needs of diverse interests.

Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner aspirations for Country are at the heart of the plan, which aims to tap the potential for enhanced visitor experiences for all park users and economic benefits for regional economies.

"We've been excited to support the development of this plan," CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Ro Hill said.

"We've supported traditional owners to be at the forefront of public consultation, using participatory tools like interactive mapping. This award nomination recognises the shift towards empowering traditional owner voices."

Established more than 30 years ago, the Banksia Sustainability Awards are the first and foremost sustainability awards in Australia.

The Awards recognise and reward those who show excellence and leadership in environmental and social stewardship.

"Being nominated for such a prestigious award demonstrates that the Plan has caught people's attention and we are proud that we can represent our culture and aspirations in this way," Mr Atkinson said.

In Dja Dja Wurrung language the plan is called Manyangurr ngulumbara Dhelkunya Djandak Murrup: 'We meet together to return good health to Country and spirit'. Dja Dja Wurrung language is use throughout the plan.

"The plan puts our language first and gets us used to speaking our language more and more. It's important that I learn my language and pass it on," Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson, Trent Nelson said.

The Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks was launched on 13 October 2018 following initial funding provided by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning through the State’s Recognition and Settlement Agreement. Parks Victoria is responsible for implementing management.

The winners will be announced at the Banksia Sustainability Awards Gala Night in Sydney on Tuesday 3 December 2019.

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  • Person handing a park management plan to another person as part of the Victorian parks Joint Management Plan. Other people in the background holding copies of the management plan.

    Trent Nelson, Graham Atkinson, John Bradley and Doug Humann celebrate the launch of the Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks in 2018.

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  • Group of people standing around a rock pool located on a rock outcrop with bushland in the background.

    A special guided tour for dignitaries to a Dja Dja Wurrung Rock Well at Kooyoora State Park in central Victoria.

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  • Landscape view of Country from the rocky out crops at Melville Caves in Kooyoora State Park, with a large boulder in the foreground, and the view extending across bushland covered hills in the background.

    The view of Country from the rocky out crops at Melville Caves in Kooyoora State Park has been enjoyed by Dja Dja Wurrung People for millennia.

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  • Trent Nelson and Graham Atkinson standing with the Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP next to a vehicle and holding a copy of the Joint Management Plan.

    Traditional Owners, Trent Nelson and Graham Atkinson presenting the Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP with a personalised copy of the Joint Management Plan at the launch in 2018.

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  • Group of people standing on a rock outcrop in Kooyoora State Park, Australia.

    Traditional Owner, Trent Nelson sharing Knowledge of Country with Minister Board members and guests at Kooyoora State Park.

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