Com­mon ground for tra­di­tional own­ers of the land

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS -

HIS new role at the Goul­burn Bro­ken Catch­ment Man­age­ment Author­ity ( CMA) is sim­ple to ex­plain for proud Yorta Yorta man Des Mor­gan.

Of­fi­cially, he’s been em­ployed as an En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter Indige­nous fa­cil­i­ta­tor but for Des it’s about ful­fill­ing his re­spon­si­bil­ity as a tra­di­tional owner.

“For us it’s pretty sim­ple. How you re­ceive the wa­ter is how you pass it on and you look af­ter it while it’s on your coun­try,” Des said.

“That’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to the peo­ple and the land fur­ther down the river,” he said.

He’s been charged with help­ing to for­malise ar­range­ments between tra­di­tional owner groups within the catch­ment and set­ting up con­sul­ta­tive pro­cesses sur­round­ing the use of en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter.

He’ll work with Yorta Yorta and Taun­gu­rung el­ders to de­vise spe­cific uses for en­vi­ron­men­tal and cul­tural wa­ter.

Goul­burn Bro­ken CMA CEO Chris Nor­man said he was thrilled to have Des work­ing with the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Hav­ing Des on board high­lights the CMA’s com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing em­ploy­ment of lo­cal indige­nous peo­ple,” Mr Nor­man said.

“He brings a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to us and we look for­ward to learn­ing from him.”

Des said it was fit­ting his new role in­volved work­ing with the mighty River Mur­ray, the banks of which at Barmah were his home for his first decade of life.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing my mother and my aun­ties wash­ing the clothes in the river and dry­ing them on the banks,” he said.

The Mur­ray River is cen­tral to the cre­ation story of Des’ peo­ple, who be­lieve the river was made when their creator Bi­ami filled the river with his tears.

“He was so re­lieved when his wife was found in Lake Alexan­d­rina. He had sent his snake Dhun­gala to find her and his slith­er­ing trav­els set the route of the wind­ing river,” Des said.

“With that hap­pi­ness he placed the Yorta Yorta peo­ple in their coun­try and set down the laws on how to look af­ter that coun­try and the river.”

Des left Barmah aged 16 to train as a mo­tor me­chanic in Mel­bourne.

“But my real pas­sion was work­ing with tra­di­tional owner groups to pro­tect cul­tural her­itage sites,” he said.

That led to a ca­reer with the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices (DHS) where he was charged with re­unit­ing fam­i­lies which had pre­vi­ously been sep­a­rated.

Now he aims to use his in­flu­ence as the vice chair­man of the Yorta Yorta Na­tion Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion between tra­di­tional owner groups.

“I will aim to cre­ate a space where they feel free to speak plainly and I want to be a fa­cil­i­ta­tor between the groups so there’s al­ways an av­enue to dis­cus­sion rather than con­flict.

“We need to talk about the types of plants and fish species we want the wa­ter used to re­gen­er­ate.”

The role is part of the Goul­burn Bro­ken CMA’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­gram funded by the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning.

PROUD YORTA YORTA MAN: Des Mor­gan has been ap­pointed as an En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter Indige­nous Fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the Goul­burn Bro­ken Catch­ment Man­age­ment Author­ity to for­malise ar­range­ments between tra­di­tional owner groups within the catch­ment.

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