Joint Media Release by Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation & Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
Background: The Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network formed in response to concerns about the relations between Traditional Owners and recreational users of Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) and Dyurrite (Arapiles-Tooan State Park). In June last year a number of concerned climbers from across Victoria came together upon realising that the critical conversation with the Traditional Owners was not under way.
Since the access changes in Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) and Dyurrite (Arapiles TooanState Park) have been announced by Parks Victoria in response to concerns about potential damage to Cultural Heritage and ecological values, the climbing community has sought appropriate ways of responding.
The Network has identified a critical need to form positive and enduring relationships with the Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and Dyurrite. Conversations between the Network and representatives of Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation have reinforced the need for this to happen.
Update: The Network has met with representatives of the three Traditional Owner Corporations of Gariwerd on several occasions over the past three months. These early meetings have focused on determining whether we can work together, and how we can do that, resulting in a shared sense that continuing conversations are worthwhile. We have agreed to initially focus our joint efforts on exploring issues related to climbing access, with the Network positioning itself as a conduit between Traditional Owners and the broader climbing community. All four parties hold hope that respectful relationships will create a platform to explore meaningful and enduring solutions to problems facing our communities.
Information on the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network is available via their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/gwrn.org.au). The Network is in the process of setting up a website with further information about their work and how the community can support and engage with this project.
“We are hopeful that this communication will provide members of the climbing community some reassurance that conversations are happening, and we want to find ways to work with the climbing groups to share information from and with the Traditional Owners,” Network President, Claire Evans.
“We are focused on building respectful relationships in line with the principles of reconciliation. With the guidance of Traditional Owners, we want to help educate and support the climbing community to hold respectful conversations about access, because we firmly believe that finding meaningful and enduring solutions requires mutual respect and understanding.”
“Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation is excited by the establishment of the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network and the opportunity this group provides us in developing a closer and stronger relationship with the climbing community and the broader community of Gariwerd. We look forward to taking this journey together,” Marcus Clarke, CEO Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.
“It has been really pleasing to see how the Network has gone about establishing the group: by contacting Traditional Owners at the first instance, collaborating with Traditional Owners during the Network’s establishment and discussing how it would operate so that it would fit in with the wishes and aspirations of Traditional Owners. This is not usual for us, it was a very different approach. It feels like we can work together in partnership moving forward,” Stuart Harradine, On Country Operations Manager, Barengi Gadjin Land Council
“The connection and belonging that the rock art in Gariwerd represent to our communities is irreplaceable. The relationships between our communities and the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Group will educate all of us and the broader public about the obligations that we all have to protect and preserve the rock art as part of a heritage and identity of Gariwerd,” Damein Bell, CEO Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation