Do go online and add your story to the Yarra map at imaginetheyarra.com.au This is part of the community consultation for the Yarra Strategic Plan that Melbourne Water is conducting. This part of the consultation closes this Friday, so take the opportunity before it expires,
Last Thursday afternoon was the Third Reading of the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill. For those who do not appreciate the full complexities of the Parliamentary system (as I did not), after the third reading of the Bill, it is put to the vote. The bill was passed unopposed. I was present in the public gallery for the vote. The Bill requires a Yarra Strategy Plan to be commissioned (from Melbourne Water as the lead agency) and this plan begins with building a 5o year community vision for our river. The Bill is innovative and is a new way of thinking about the green places that thread through our city. Among its innovative features are that it includes traditional owner ‘caring for country’ management for our river in an urban context. The bill is the first in Australia to include ‘language’ and the preamble is in Wurundjeri. The Bill receives royal assent on 26 September 2017 and comes into effect on the 1 December 2017. The Act will consider the Yarra and its parklands as one single living entity and it will co-ordinate the work of government and government agencies along the river.
The Second Reading of the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung Murron) Bill was introduce by the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, in the chamber of Victorian Legislative Assembly on Thursday 22 June. The Wurundjeri, the First Nation People of the Yarra and its catchment, were welcomed on to the floor of the Lower State House and spoke in Woi-wurrung as a prelude to the introduction of the Bill. They received a standing ovation from both sides of the Chamber. I was lucky enough to be present at this historic moment with my predecessor as Yarra Riverkeeper, Ian Penrose, the President of the Yarra Riverkeeper Association, Christopher Balmford, and board member Warwick Leeson (who managed to get a seat in the Speaker’s Gallery).
It is in the Second Reading that the details of the Bill is announced.
It is rare for non-elected people to be allowed onto the floor of the chamber, even rarer that they speak, and the standing ovation was contrary to the custom not to clap in the chamber. This was the first time that Woi-rwurrung (the language of the Wurrundjeri) was spoken on the floor of any chamber in the state legislature,
So, the Bill is now well and truly launched and we are expecting that it will be passed by the Upper House before the end of the year.
The Bill is important as it acknowledges the role of the traditional owners in ‘Caring for Country’ — in caring for the river and its parklands and riparian corridor as one living, integrated natural entity, and uses this lens to protect the river for all the people of the Yarra catchment and beyond. The health of the city of Melbourne depends on the health of its much-loved river and the parklands along its length. It is where people come to ride, row, paddle, sometime swim, run, walk, and reflect.
The Bill creates the requirement for a long-term vision for the Yarra in the form of a Yarra Strategy Plan, includes the community in the creation of that vision, requires that strategy plan to be revised every 10 years, and establishes the Birrarung (the Wurundjeri word for the Yarra) Council. The council is required to report to the Minister on the effectiveness of the plan. The Bill establishes the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands, acknowledging that the river is far more than the water in the channel. The Bill sets out a range of protection principles for the Yarra to which responsible public entities must have regard in doing in work relating to the river and its parklands.
This is innovative, landmark legislation that establishes principles for sustainability and river management and then gives those principles teeth though auditing and public reporting. It includes both First Peoples and the community in the management of the river.
Here is a link to the speech given by Aunty Alice Kolasa on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, yesterday:
The Bill is the result to more than three years work by us (among many others). We sowed the seed with lobbying before the last election.
We have successful moved our membership database online thanks to Wild Apricot and PayPal here The url is actually: https://yra.wildapricot.org. The first time you log on you will have to create a password and then you will then be able manage your own membership information online. You are able to pay your renewal (or joining fee) online with a credit card, and make a donation. If you want to pay by bank transfer please create an invoice, and then make a bank transfer using your name as a reference, or send us a cheque. We have been using this powerful new software to send out our last three newsletters. Any problems? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to the generosity of Stephen Curtain of Nature Communications we have a short video (2 1/2 minutes) record of our Community Forum on Wednesday 5 April. If you were unable to attend, please do watch the video here. It captures the essence of the evening.
Please then look at the the Action Plan here and then email the three responsible ministers — Planning, Environment and Water — with your favourite Action Plan point and let them know why the Yarra and making the ‘Action Plan’ deliver is important to you:
Minister for Planning: email@example.com
Minister for the Environment lily.d’firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Water: email@example.com
If you have a twitter account, please tweet your favourite Action Plan point on Thursday with the hashtag #ActForTheYarra and include the Minister for Planning’s handle @rwynnemp
Please also post on Facebook stating your favourite Action Plan point with the hashtag #ActForTheYarra.
Thank you for being part of our celebration of the Yarra River Action Plan and the proposed Birrarung Council and the proposed Yarra River Protection Act.
Two years ago, we called you together to develop a community vision for the Yarra. Now we are calling you together again to take that vision to the next stage. The Yarra and its green corridor has come to a turning point. As Melbourne’s population heads towards 8 million in 2050, pressure is mounting on one of the city’s most precious natural assets. Our river deserves modern governance driven by a long-term vision that is founded on community involvement, a clear strategy that is regularly reviewed, targets, ongoing monitoring and regular reporting. Much progress has been in the two years since our first forum. In February, this year the government announced a Yarra River Action Plan. This provides the policy foundations for the drafting of a Yarra River (Willip-gin Birrarung murron) Protection Bill. This Action Plan includes the preparation of a community vision for our river and a detailed Yarra Strategic Plan. Community participation will be central to the preparation of both
instruments. Join Environmental Justice Australia and the Yarra Riverkeeper to develop the community vision for the Yarra.
When: 6pm to 8pm
Date: 5 April 2017
Place: The Linen Room
1 St Heliers Street
On February 26 at the Abbotsford Convent, Premier Andrews launched the Yarra River Action Plan. This was the government’s response to the recommendations of the Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee (Yarra MAC). The government accepted 28 of the thirty recommendations by the Yarra MAC in full and the remaining two were accepted in part. This is a proposal for modern river governance that will be both world class and Australian first and will deliver the protection the Yarra deserves. The initiatives include:
• A baseline study of the river.
• A Yarra strategy lead by Melbourne Water and involving strong community input.
• The setting of targets for the health of the Yarra.
• Annual reporting to Parliament.
• The establishment of the Birrarung Council with the involvement of the Traditional Owners.
At the same time the Planning Minister announced a group amendment to the Planning Schemes for the six councils on the river. This provides additional protection for Melbourne’s iconic waterway.
The Yarra River Action Plan can be found here.
And an overview of the Planning Scheme amendments can be found here.
Do come along on Saturday 11 March 2017 for a guided walk around Studley Park with the Yarra Riverkeeper. Meet at the Studley Park Boathouse at 10.00 am. Spend the next two hours hearing the stories of the River. There are some unsealed, uneven surfaces, and a steepish climb. It is not suitable for strollers or dogs.