On 28 March 2013, the State of Victoria and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (known as DJAARA) entered into a Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) which formally recognises the Dja Dja Wurrung people as the traditional owners for part of Central Victoria.
The RSA commenced on 24 October 2013 and was the culmination of 18 months of negotiations between the State and Dja Dja Wurrung people.
The RSA is the first comprehensive settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic). The agreement settles four native title claims in the Federal Court dating back to 1998.
The agreement area extends from north of the Great Dividing Range near Daylesford and includes part or all of the catchments of the Richardson, Avon, Avoca, Loddon and Campaspe Rivers. It includes, inter alia, Crown land in the City of Greater Bendigo, Lake Boort and part of Lake Buloke.
The agreement relates only to Crown lands and waters within the external boundaries of the agreement area.
No. Existing leases, licences and other rights and interests are protected for their full term.
Recreational activities like hunting and fishing will not be affected.
The Dja Dja Wurrung people are able to hunt, fish and gather in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the Natural Resource Agreement (NRA) and Traditional Owner Land Natural Resource Agreement (TOLNRA).
The Dja Dja Wurrung people are required to be able to demonstrate that they are a member of the Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owner group.
The recognised rights of traditional owners do not affect the access of existing users, such as recreational fishers and hunters.
The agreement does not provide the Dja Dja Wurrung people with any commercial hunting, fishing or forestry rights under existing allocations. However, it does allow some limited take for commercial purposes, for example, for bushcraft manufacturing.
The Dja Dja Wurrung RSA includes the first Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA), which commenced on 25 October 2013. A LUAA under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act creates a new and simplified regime for managing activities on public land that may have an impact on the rights of the Dja Dja Wurrung people.
The LUAA is intended to end the uncertainty and complexity created by the future act regime of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), by providing more straightforward and clearly defined procedural rights for Traditional Owners over public land. For example, in consultation with industry representatives, the LUAA includes a fast-tracked process for approvals of mineral exploration authorisations in the agreement area.
The Dja Dja Wurrung have an opportunity to have a say or consent to certain activities on Crown land, and in some cases, reasonable ’community benefits’ are payable to DJAARA.
For more information on the LUAA, see Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
Six national parks and reserves in the agreement area have been, or will be, transferred to DJAARA as ‘Aboriginal title’. Management rights for the land have been transferred back to the State. The parks and reserves are jointly managed by the State and the Dja Dja Wurrung through the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board.
In all cases, the parks and reserves continue to be managed under the same Act of Parliament by which they are reserved, and are also be subject to the joint management plan developed by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board. The joint management plan was approved by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water in October 2018, following public consultation.
Transfer of parks or reserves under Aboriginal title does not affect existing use and access.
The following areas (approximately 47,523 hectares) have been, or will be, granted as Aboriginal title and will be subject to joint management:
- Greater Bendigo National Park
- Kara Kara National Park (that part which falls within the agreement area)
- Hepburn Regional Park
- Kooyoora State Park
- Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve
- Paddy’s Range State Park.
The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board was established after commencement of the settlement. A majority of members are nominated by DJAARA. The remaining members, representing the State and the broader community, are nominated by the State.
In October 2018, the Board published a joint management plan with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (External link) that sets the strategic direction for the land.
Joint management benefits both Dja Dja Wurrung and the wider community by recognising Dja Dja Wurrung culture and knowledge, providing quality visitor and tourism experiences, improving public education and conserving, protecting and enhancing natural and cultural values.
Parks Victoria and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action will continue to carry out day-to-day management and will permanently keep some core management functions. This includes fire management and catchment management including designated water supply catchment areas under the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic).
Jointly managed areas will continue to be managed under the relevant public land Act under which they are reserved. Protections around existing use and access contained in these Acts and regulations will continue to apply.
Once the land is formally transferred to DJAARA, the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board will draft a joint management plan. Access and use will be dealt with through the joint management plan, which includes a public consultation process. The joint management plan must be consistent with statewide policy to maintain public access.
This means that existing licences or leases within the jointly managed area are protected, friends groups can continue to operate and recreational fishing and hunting will be able to continue.
In addition to Aboriginal title land, two properties at Franklinford and Carisbrook were transferred to DJAARA. These properties were formerly held by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and were unreserved Crown land. These properties have particular cultural significance for the Dja Dja Wurrung people.
The Franklinford and Carisbrook properties were granted in fee simple and are held in trust by DJAARA for the benefit of the traditional owner group.
Downloadable versions of the Dja Dja Wurrung agreement documents
The complete executed agreement, signed recognition statement, a brochure, map of the settlement agreement area and the accompanying fact sheet are available below.