Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners

"The Dja Dja Wurrung people define ourselves as victors and not victims. We have broken the shackles of victimhood and see ourselves walking into the light of full and equal rights."

- Graham Atkinson, Board Chairperson

In the past, the voices of Traditional Owners have not been recognised in the management of Country. The goal of the Joint Management Plan (JMP) is to enable the Traditional Owner knowledge and connection to Country to be expressed in the planning and management of the lands.

The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board is working in close partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DDWCAC) to produce a JMP that is fully aligned with the goals and aspirations of the Dja Dja Wurrung People as expressed in their Country Plan.


Today, the Dja Dja Wurrung People proudly survive and continue to practice their culture and customs. This ongoing dedication of Dja Dja Wurrung People has kept alive their connections to country, and their invaluable knowledge and practices to support sustainable management.

A Dja Dja Wurrung person is descended through either parent to Apical Ancestors who were associated with Dja Dja Wurrung Country by birth, place of burial, and/or other connection with Dja Dja Wurrung Country at the time of first contact with Europeans.

The DDWCAC has a Board of nine members who are chosen from descendants of those Apical Ancestors who have who have activated their rights and are members of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Full Group. The Corporation is committed to practice and revitalise cultural traditions and customs and represents the Dja Dja Wurrung People in government relations.


Since the European colonisation of Australia, the Dja Dja Wurrung People have endured policies and practices that substantially obstructed their ability to practice their traditional law and customs, and to access their country and resources. For example, Dja Dja Wurrung families recount stories from the mission period of their ancestors being punished for the use of Dja Dja Wurrung language and customs. In the words of Rebecca Phillips:

"The pain, sadness, confusion and unjust hardships they endured and overcame are testament to the residual present day health and wellbeing of our Country and our People, their descendants. What happened during colonisation and the following attempts at genocide challenged and tested our resilience and resistance to the degradation of our land, our culture and our People. We are proud of and honoured by the innovative ways in which they upheld the integrity of our once silenced life ways, traditions and belief systems."

- Rebecca Phillips, Board Member

The Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan

As the representative entity of the Dja Dja Wurrung People, DDWCAC prepared the Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan, Dhelkunya Dja, to express the Traditional Owners’ aspirations for their Community and Country. Dhelkunya Dja means ‘healing land’ in the Dja Dja Wurrung language, and is representative of the Dja Dja Wurrung’s aspirations for country.

Our Country is now also valued by other people and cultures. European and Asian cultural heritage is strong, particularly through the gold mining history of our region, which continues to influence the recreational pursuits of prospecting and fossicking that are practiced today. Local industries, including beekeeping, forestry, agriculture and tourism, depend on the natural resources that our Country provides.

DDWCAC (Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan 2014-2034, p 8)

The aspirations experienced by the Dja Dja Wurrung Community in the Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan are that:

  1. The health and wellbeing of our People is strong, and underpinned by our living culture.
  2. Our lands and waters are in good condition and actively managed to protect our values and to promote the laws, culture and rights of all Dja Dja Wurrung People.
  3. As this Country’s First People we are politically empowered with an established place in society, and capable of managing our own affairs from a strong and diverse economic base.

The Country Plan establishes eight goals to guide DDWCAC actions in governance and management and achieve their stated aspirations:

  1. Goal 1: Djaara
    Every Dja Dja Wurrung person (Djaara) is happy, healthy and secure in their identity, livelihood and lifestyle.
  2. Goal 2: Cultural Practices and Customs
    Dja Dja Wurrung customs and practices are alive and respected - keeping us connected to our past, our present and our future.
  3. Goal 3: Cultural Heritage
    Our cultural heritage is recognised and protected as a celebration of our identity and community.
  4. Goal 4: Bushtucker and Medicine
    Our Country continues to nourish us by providing bush tucker and medicine, and important species and ecosystems (biodiversity).
  5. Goal 5: Rivers and Waterways
    Our rivers and waterways are healthy and meet the needs of our people and land.
  6. Goal 6: Land
    Our upside-down country is healthy again.
  7. Goal 7: Self-determination
    As our Country’s first People, Djaara have an established place in society and are empowered to manage our own affairs.
  8. Goal 8: Traditional Owner Economy
    We have a strong and diverse economic base to provide for our health and wellbeing, and strengthen our living culture.
  9. Goal 9: Joint Management
    All Crown Land on Dja Dja Wurrung Country is Aboriginal Title and we are the sole managers.
Dja Dja Wurrung Land, photo by Linda Ford

Are you a member of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation?

Log into the DDWCAC website here.

Are you interested in finding out more?

Click here to download the Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan.

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