Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

Main Menu Search

Case Study: People and Parks Foundation

ProjectResting Places - Healing Country Together

Amount$450,000 over 2 years

Date2019

ProgramEnvironment

TRUST OBJECTIVES PROJECT OBJECTIVES
Rural and regional Victoria Strengthening the capacity of Traditional Owners in north-west Victoria to work collaboratively with community, promoting healing, building resilience and unlocking potential
Reducing inequality Enabling Traditional Owners to fulfill their responsibility to respect their Ancestors and protect their Ancestral Remains.
Enabling financial sustainability Building capacity to understand, plan and seek funding for the larger program of works covering 120km of burial dunes
Building organisational capacity Developing the skills and expertise of First Peoples of Millewa Mallee to lead the program while developing their capabilities as a newly formed Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP)
Collaboration and partnership First Peoples of Millewa Mallee, Parks Victoria,  land managers including Mallee Catchment Management Authority and Mildura City Council, and the Vizard Foundation.

Restoring the Ancestors' Resting Places heals Country and culture

In north-west Victoria lies one of the most extensive, concentrated areas of Aboriginal burial dunes in Australia. These ancient burial sites are thousands of years old and of global significance, however, they are deteriorating as the land becomes increasingly dry and eroded. Ancestral Remains, once protected by indigenous grasses, lie exposed to the elements, degraded by cattle grazing, pests and vehicles. People and Parks Foundation, along with Parks Victoria, is working in close partnership with the First Peoples of the Millewa Mallee to rebury their Ancestral Remains and restore the landscape that protects their Resting Places.

Image L-R: Carl Kirby (Cultural Heritage Ranger), Damien Jackson (Statewide Cultural Heritage Protection Specialist), Jason Bowden and Darren Brown (both Cultural Heritage Rangers) showing an aerial photo of the 120kms of burial sites. Photo: Lin Bender.

North-west Victoria has been home to thousands of generations of Aboriginal people through millenia. Hundreds of burial grounds span the region between Barmah National Park in the east to Murray Sunset National Park in the west, many in layers well over 10,000 years old. The Indigenous community, land managers, and philanthropy are working in partnership to ensure the complex series of burial dunes in north-west Victoria are restored, protected and cared for by Traditional Owners.

Snapshot:

  • This project builds on an earlier HMSTrust-funded pilot. Over 100 recorded Ancestral Remains across 16 acres were reburied and dunes restored with logs and vegetation introduced to prevent further erosion;
  • Traditional Owner-led community consultations will inform the scale up of the Resting Places program to ensure local Aboriginal communities and other key stakeholders are aware and supportive of this highly sensitive work which requires expert knowledge of Country;
  • A Resting Places Coordinator will enable First People of Millewa Mallee to lead the program, engage community, and transfer Elder knowledge;
  • Burial dunes across a 120km stretch west of Mildura will be recorded, assessed and prioritised;
  • Cultural Heritage Rangers from Parks Victoria are playing a key role in the project;
  • Traditional Owners, with support from Parks Victoria and People and Parks Foundation, will develop a large scale program of works including landscape recording and assessment, on-ground burial, and environmental restoration works;
  • This project helps build a case for large scale government and philanthropic support.

peopleandparks.org

“Traditional Owners have always known that ‘when we care for Country, Country cares for us’. We now have an opportunity to come together and apply this wisdom, to heal Country and people together. And we need to resource this together to make it happen.” Alison Hill, Managing Director, People and Parks Foundation.