A peak body representing thousands of Traditional Owner’s across Victoria have criticised media, politicians, and environmentalists of latent racism in the current commentary around the Wombat State Forest, north-west of Melbourne.

Back in 2021, severe stormfronts impacted 80,000 hectares of forest, affecting landscape, Cultural Heritage and industry in an area including the Wombat and Lederberg State Forests. The scale of the damage created significant risks in increased bushfire conditions and impacted cultural use by Traditional Owners. 

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, which operates under the registered business name of DJAARA, are working with VicForests to make the forest safe so that the Dja Dja Wurrung People can remediate Country in a culturally appropriate way, in accordance with the principles of Forest Gardening.

But recently published articles alleged VicForests of taking advantage of the Traditional Land Owners, accusing their loggers of a “smash-up operation” under the cultural guise of “Forest Gardening”

The Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations says in questioning the knowledge, skills and representative structures of the Dja Dja Wurrung, a racist belief is exposed that Traditional Owners can’t manage their land and can’t make informed decisions.

Federation CEO, Paul Paton is a Gunai and Monero man and says DJAARA must be the primary voice featured in discussions of Dja Dja Wurrung Country, as the representative body for Traditional Owners in the area.

Federation of Victorian Traditional Owners CEO Paul Paton