In an Australian first, the Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung Murron) Bill 2017 identifies the Yarra River and the many hundreds of parcels of public land it flows through as one living, integrated natural entity for protection and improvement.
To underline the importance of the public parklands and open spaces along the Yarra River within metropolitan Melbourne, they will be known collectively as the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands.
It is also the first Bill in Victoria to use the language of Traditional Owners in its title, and one of the first in Australia to include Traditional Owner language in the Bill’s body. Woi-wurrung language is used in recognition of Traditional Owners’ custodianship of the river and connection to the lands through which the river flows.
The Bill will strengthen the protection and management of the Yarra River by:
- Developing a Yarra Strategic Plan to coordinate 14 public entities that operate along the river corridor
- Establishing a new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, to act as an independent voice for the river
- Requiring regular reporting by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on the environmental condition of the river and its parklands
- Designating the parklands and open space along the river as the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands
- Ensuring future governments protect the Yarra River
The introduction of the Bill delivers a Victorian Government election commitment and follows the release of the Yarra River Action Plan (PDF, 5.7 MB) in February.