Partnership re-affirmed

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) re-signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday, 16th April.

The signing was celebrated at a special ceremony in Traralgon, attended by members of the Gunaikurnai Elders Board and WGCMA and GLaWAC Boards and staff.

This is the third MoU between the two organisations, who have worked together for over a decade. The first MoU was signed on 15 November 2013.

WGCMA Chair, Peter Jennings OAM, said the partnership demonstrated a commitment and mutual respect between the two organisations.

“We are really proud of the partnership we have with GLaWAC and our organisation is committed to promoting and protecting cultural heritage sites in the region.

“We will continue work together on projects in the Gunaikurnai native title area in the areas of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and natural resource management,” said Mr Jennings.

GLaWAC Chair, Brian Stevens reiterated the importance of increased understanding of cultural heritage.

“It is vital our partners understand our Gunaikurnai people, our history, and our journey of healing and self-determination,” he said.

“WGCMA has shown a commitment for many years to us and for that we are thankful.”

The ongoing partnership between the two organisations has transformed the way the WGCMA protects and manages the natural environment.

“As part of our partnership with GLaWAC, we developed a staff cultural heritage awareness training program, to help us work together more effectively,” said WGCMA’s CEO, Martin Fuller.

“All our Board members and over ninety per cent of WGCMA staff have taken part in Cultural Heritage training.”

Mr Fuller said formal working arrangements were also in place.

“We work closely with GLaWAC works crews on projects such as our Saltmarsh Protection Program in Corner Inlet and fox baiting on Dream Island.

“Over the past three years, there has been more than 3500 hours of work on country by Traditional Owners for projects under our National Landcare Program.”

He said the partnership was an essential part of the CMA’s delivery of key objectives, such as the Regional Waterways Strategy and the Regional Catchment Strategy.

GLaWAC’s CEO Roger Fenwick agreed the partnership played an important role in achieving their objectives.

“One of the Corporation’s priorities is to continue building the capacity of its great team of staff,” Mr Fenwick said.

“The WGCMA has developed strong relationships with GLaWAC in delivering caring for country activities in a culturally appropriate way.”

The two organisations have agreed to celebrate the agreement every five years to reaffirm their understanding and commitment.