Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, more recently known as DJAARA, has launched the Dja Dja Wurrung Climate Change Strategy: Turning ‘wrong way’ climate, ‘right way’, which advocates for direct djaara leadership and a more holistic approach to climate, Country and people.
The strategy was released on 24 May 2023 at Wanyarra Dum (Frog Ponds) in White Hills, and emphasises the importance of Dja Dja Wurrung People (djaara) leadership in both mitigating climate change and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.
The Dja Dja Wurrung Climate Change Strategy was developed by collaborating with a diverse group of Dja Dja Wurrung People (djaara) to find out what they felt was best for Dja Dja Wurrung Country (djandak). It follows DJAARA’s Renewable Energy and Forest Gardening strategies, both released in 2022.
DJAARA CEO Rodney Carter highlighted the company’s unique approach to healing climate, which is outlined in the strategy. “Climate change is driven by colonial and western approaches to natural resource management where people, Country and climate are seen as separate,” Mr Carter said.
“Dja Dja Wurrung take a holistic approach to climate action based on the principle that people, Country and climate are connected through spirit. Healing climate, healing Country and healing Dja Dja Wurrung People are very connected.
“Our Dja Dja Wurrung Climate Change Strategy brings together work that DJAARA is already leading on Country – including around natural resource management, cultural burning, forest gardening and other healing activities on Country,” Mr Carter said.
The climate change strategy combines with DJAARA’s renewable energy plan, nyuawi mutjeka, meaning ‘to keep the sun’, which outlines how DJAARA intends to pursue opportunities for renewable energy production and consumption that protects and supports djaara and djandak.
The strategy lists a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led projects that can help djaara be more selfsufficient and climate conscious on djandak, such as solar generation systems, battery energy storage systems, and electric vehicles.
Turning ‘wrong way’ climate, ‘right way’
The climate strategy advocates for djaara to be central to all climate actions undertaken on djandak, as their traditional practices and cultural knowledge are uniquely placed to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Mr Carter said Dja Dja Wurrung leadership is needed to effectively address the issue of climate change in central Victoria.
“As Traditional Owners, Dja Dja Wurrung People have been listening to and caring for Country for millennia. We are highly attuned to the health of Country and of climate,” Mr Carter said. “Our biocultural knowledge makes us best placed to know what is most likely to be successful in terms of reducing and adapting to climate change.
“DJAARA is eager to engage with those who live on or share responsibility for Country, and walk together as we face the challenge of climate change.” The strategy addresses climate change through six areas. Some of the objectives and actions under each area include:
Wi – fire
• Climate change has made bushfires on djandak more extreme, and more harmful to Country, people and climate
• Cultural burning reduces the risk of extreme bushfires that release large amounts of carbon emissions, and fosters a healthier ecosystem
Gatjin – water
• Rainwater capture and storage can alleviate water scarcity for people and nature during times of drought
• Restoring native aquatic vegetation and biodiversity to rivers and waterways increases carbon storage in the land/waterscape
Djandak – country
• Galk-galk dhelkunya (forest gardening) provides a suite of tools for djaara to lead land-based mitigation projects such as carbon farming, cultural burning, and revegetation
• Renewable energy projects on djandak such as wind and solar systems
Wura-wura-yi djaa – sky country
• Initiatives that reduce pollution and carbon emissions, such as switching to electric vehicles
Galka – forests
• Galk-galk dhelkunya (forest gardening) is a traditional practice that provides a variety of means to mitigate climate change
• Planting more heat and drought tolerant trees can reduce forest degradation
• Healthy forests rely on healthy waterways and rivers, increasing environmental resilience and carbon storage
Djaara – people
• djaara owned and operated renewable energy projects
• Traditional djaara practices can help strengthen the environment and mitigate climate change
While distinct, these areas are deeply interwoven and are each permeated by a seventh concept murrun (spirit). This interconnection means that actions that affect one area will also affect the others. These areas form the framework through which DJAARA seeks to approach climate action, taking a holistic approach that considers the potential effects on all areas.
The areas combine and interact with the plants and animals of djandak to provide the seasonal indicators that form the djaara seasonal calendar, a traditional means of gauging how the land is being affected over time. Utilising the djaara seasonal calendar is one tool Dja Dja Wurrung People can use to know if Country and climate are ‘right way’ or ‘wrong way’ (healthy or unhealthy).
The presence or absence of key species in a given season, at a given time and in a given place provides the information needed to measure the success of DJAARA climate action in a culturally appropriate way.
Djaara – balaki wuka (giving to community)
DJAARA is a First Nations corporation that represents and advocates for Dja Dja Wurrung People and Country, and advances cultural, environmental and economic benefits for Traditional Owners and the wider community.
In 2008, the corporation gained Registered Aboriginal Party status for Dja Dja Wurrung people, a major step for djaara to be recognised as the Traditional Owners of djandak. On 28 March 2013, the Corporation, on behalf of djaara, and the Victorian Government signed the Recognition and Settlement agreement.
The agreement recognises and protects the unique and traditional relationship of Dja Dja Wurrung People to djandak now and into the future. It is the legal framework for engagement and collaboration between the Victorian Government and DJAARA, with a particular focus on ensuring djaara are able to practise culture on djandak.
In 2021, the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation changed its name to ‘DJAARA – Balaki Wuka (Giving to community)’ to honour the people it represents.
For more information about the Climate Strategy, visit: https://djadjawurrung.com.au/djaara-launchesclimate-strategy-ahead-of-summit/