The Yarra River is one of Victoria’s most iconic waterways, integral to Melbourne’s identity and the liveability of the city.

The river traverses more than 200 kilometres of urban and rural landscapes and across many thousands of hectares of private and public land.

The Yarra is the major source of Melbourne’s drinking water and a biodiversity corridor supporting diverse life forms.

It has particular spiritual and cultural significance for Aboriginal communities. To the Wurundjeri people the river, known as Birrarung, was the life source and an important meeting place.

Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung)

The Victorian Government has committed to protecting the Yarra River’s amenity and significance by introducing legislation, stronger planning controls and a Trust (or similar entity) to ensure this valuable asset is protected for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

Yarra River Action Plan

The Victorian Government released the Yarra River Action Plan on 26 February 2017. It contains 30 actions to ensure the long-term protection of the Yarra River and its parklands.

The action plan is the government’s response to recommendations made by the Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee (Yarra MAC) in its final report, which was presented to the government in late 2016 and released alongside the action plan.

Yarra River Action Plan repoprt cover

Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung Murron) Bill 2017

Landmark legislation has been introduced to parliament to protect the Yarra River for future generations.

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

Submissions and community feedback

The government has also released written submissions received on the Yarra MAC’s Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung) discussion paper and a report summarising community feedback.

Read the Community Views report and view the written submissions

Project overview

In December 2015 the Minister for Planning and the then Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water appointed the Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee (Yarra MAC) to provide independent advice to government on the key issues and opportunities for the river as well as improvements to governance arrangements.

As part of its deliberations the Yarra MAC sought feedback from the community on the key issues and opportunities for the river. A discussion paper, Protecting the Yarra River (Birrarung) outlined the key issues and proposed a new management model for the river.

The discussion paper was released on 1 July 2016. It was available for public comment until 8 August 2016. In all 195 written submissions were received from local governments, agencies, friends groups, community groups and individuals.

During the five-week consultation period more than 270 face-to-face conversations with stakeholders and the community were held.

The Yarra MAC considered all written submissions and feedback from community and stakeholder engagement events. That feedback informed the Yarra MAC’s report and recommendations, which were presented to government in late 2016.

The government  considered the advice of the Yarra MAC and released its response and proposed action plan for the river on 26 February, 2017.


Implementing stronger planning controls - Richmond to Warrandyte

The government has committed to bringing a consistent and stronger approach to managing development along the Yarra River.

This project implements strengthened state planning policy and delivers consistent local planning controls that protect the Yarra River between Richmond and Warrandyte - an area which is under immediate development pressure.

More information about the Yarra River Planning Controls

More information