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Partnering with Traditional Owners in the Central and Gippsland regions

The Victorian Government is committed to addressing the historical and ongoing exclusion of Traditional Owners, inclusive of groups without formal recognition, from holding and managing water, through a restorative justice approach.

The formally recognised Traditional Owners and original custodians of the region’s land and waters are the:

  • Bunurong
  • Eastern Maar
  • Gunaikurnai
  • Wadawurrung
  • Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung.

This Strategy is the first of its kind to be developed through a genuine partnership with Traditional Owners.

Representatives of the Traditional Owners in the region sat alongside decision-makers from the government and the water sector and guided the development of the Strategy.


Commitments that are being progressed include:

  • Working with Traditional Owners to continue to identify and pursue opportunities to return water as it becomes available, without taking water away from farmers or other entitlement holders.
  • Removing barriers to water ownership and access for Traditional Owners.
  • Strengthening the role of Traditional Owners in water resource planning and management.

A framework to show the benefits of water for Traditional Owners

The Traditional Owner Partnership developed a Cultural Benefits Framework.

It demonstrates how changes in ownership and management of water can result in benefits at the scale of individuals, at a Traditional Owner Nation level and also creates a ripple effect that extends to the wider community and, in some cases, the whole of Victoria and Australia.

The Cultural Benefits Framework will be used when implementing relevant actions and policies in the Strategy.

To find out more:

  • Read chapter 5 of the strategy: Healthy country, healthy mob. 
    The Traditional Owner Partnership wrote this chapter as their own, stand-alone chapter and sets out their expectations.
  • Read chapter 6: Water justice for Traditional Owners.
    This chapter sets the policies and actions that are the next step for water justice for Traditional Owner groups in the region.
  • Read the Cultural Benefits Framework.
  • Watch a short video about Traditional Owners and water.
  • Read the Victorian Government’s roadmap for increasing Traditional Owner access and ownership of water, Water is Life.
  • Read the Pupangarli Marnmarnepu ‘Owning Our Future’ Aboriginal Self-Determination Reform Strategy 2020 to 2025.

Traditional Owners and water video

Page last updated: 19/09/23