Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Merri Creek Management Committee Inc

ProjectMerri Creek Habitat Heroes

Amount$87,932 over 3 years


ProgramPast Programs | Environment

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy (Jan 2014 – March 2017)
Indigenous Victoria Help build and sustain the connection and capacity of Wurundjeri traditional custodians in the management and restoration of their traditional land.
Building capacity Build skills and capacity of the Wurundjeri Narrap team, individuals and groups from Fawkner in traditional land management, revegetation and ecological monitoring.
Extending opportunity Share skills and understanding between Wurundjeri and local community; build appreciation and respect for traditional owners; extend opportunity to appreciate the landscape of Merri Creek.
Collaboration and partnership Moreland Council, Wurundjeri Tribe Council, Fawkner Community House,Sustainable Fawkner Group, Friends of Merri Creek and local schools.

Linking culture and natural heritage

The Habitat Heroes program links cultural and natural heritage in an innovative and significant way. It involves the Wurundjeri traditional owners, who have been excluded from managing this land for more than 150 years, and the disadvantaged area of Fawkner, which is home to many newly arrived residents from non-English speaking backgrounds with little understanding of the local landscape. The project is led by the Merri Creek Management Committee, an environmental coordination and management agency formed in 1989 to ensure preservation of this catchment area, including ecologically sensitive restoration.

Image Merri Creek Community Planting Day

With the involvement of six partner organisations, the Habitat Heroes project aims to restore biodiversity in a habitat gap along Merri Creek in Fawkner. It will facilitate Indigenous land management, including the environmental burning which is ecologically and culturally important.

Project participants will remove the last weedy areas in this section of the creek, create a low maintenance indigenous landscape and encourage the use of the top 10 Habitat Hero species in gardens and streetscapes.

The desire of the Wurundjeri traditional owners to reskill and reconnect with this land after more than a century will result in new training and employment opportunities, while the involvement of the local community will include hands-on planting, bird monitoring and interpretive events.

Project aims

  • Establish a low maintenance biodiverse natural landscape.
  • Support Wurundjeri connection to country through training and land management opportunities, tours for Wurundjeri Elders and a welcome to country from Wurundjeri for the local community.
  • Develop local community connections through community events including an introduction to local biodiversity for new residents.
  • Promote the top 10 Habitat Hero plant species in residential gardens.
  • Create a project report and lobby governments for change.

Merri Creek Management Committee’s Manager, Luisa Macmillan, says the project is probably unique because of the involvement of traditional owners and the local community.


“The Trust funding is essential in giving us continuity for three years. We have so much more potential, because it takes time to grow the ecological aspect, and it takes time to grow community involvement. Both need nurturing and supporting,” says Merri Creek Management Committee’s Manager, Luisa Macmillan.