A partnership celebrated

A unique approach to working with Traditional Owners has transformed the way the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority protects and manages the natural environment.

With funding from the National Landcare Program (NLP), WGCMA embarked on an ambitious campaign to further develop partnerships with and provide support for Traditional Owner groups. The first Memorandum of Understanding with the Gunaikaurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) was signed in 2013.

Chief Executive Officer, Martin Fuller, said he is incredibly proud of all that has been achieved through the Indigenous Partnership Program.

“Our relationship with GLaWAC fundamentally changed the way we plan and deliver our activities.

“It’s led to a much greater level of Traditional Owner participation and helped both organisations develop a very strong understanding of each other’s values.”

Mr Fuller said a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BLCAC) was due to be signed in April this year.

“Formalising these relationships allows us to provide support for the Traditional Owner organisations and increase the cultural awareness and knowledge within our own organisation.”

A recent review of the partnership program revealed significant benefits for all the organisations involved. These include developing strategies and protocols in conjunction with GLaWAC and BLCAC and working together on the ground.

“Having our Traditional Owner groups involved in work on Country and helping us to implement projects is at the heart of the success of the project,” said Mr Fuller.

“Working alongside each other is invaluable in terms of building these relationships.”

The commitment to cultural awareness training and activities for WGCMA staff was also key.

“Every CMA staff member has done some level of cultural awareness training or activities,” said Mr Fuller.

“These partnerships have helped us create respectful, collaborative relationships that in turn have supported the self-determination for Aboriginal people across Gippsland.”

A new brochure – In Partnership – outlines the achievements and ongoing aims of the program. Copies are available from the WGCMA or online.

photo of staff at Marsdenia Rainforest Walk
Staff from GLaWAC, the WGCMA and local agencies at Lake Tyers as part of a Cultural Awareness Training day