Conserving Natural Environments and Aboriginal Burial Sites

Over ten thousand years of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains are at risk. If we act now, the damage is reparable, and further damage is preventable. It's too big a job for the local Aboriginal community alone, it's going to take a multisectoral partnership approach to address the issues that have led to the uncovering of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains.

Victoria’s semi-arid zones and sand dunes in the North-West of the state are under threat from over-grazing feral animals like rabbits and wild cattle causing erosion, as well as certain activities like four wheel driving in environmentally sensitive areas. The environments in these zones need protecting for their own sake, but also for the sake of the many Aboriginal resting places located in the region. Unfortunately, Aboriginal Ancestral Remains are being uncovered through activities that result in erosion and other forms of environmental degradation, causing great distress to Aboriginal people. 

The Issues

  • Damage caused by erosion, introduced species and parks visitor impacts is contributing to a degraded environment and the resulting cultural crisis of disturbed Aboriginal burial sites
  • Initial survey work has identified hundreds of burial areas, or ‘cemetary dunes’, from Barmah National Park in the east to Murray Sunset National Park in the west, in layers spanning more than ten thousand years
  • Few locals or visitors are aware of the damage they cause to this environment

4 - FWD damage

Deep trenches - the result of off-road vehicles.

11 - Damage from pests - rabbits

Rabbits are digging holes, and uncovering ancestral remains in the process.

9 - FWD damage - erosion

The devastating effects of erosion caused by a number of human and animal impacts.

What can we do to protect semi-arid regions in North Western Victoria?

People and Parks Foundation is working closely with Parks Victoria and community to facilitate research and conservation activities in Victoria’s north west. This work will not only protect and preserve the natural environment, but crucially, it will provide a permanent solution for Aboriginal peoples in the region to the highly distressing problem of uncovered ancestral remains. People and Parks Foundation is raising funds in order to deliver the following outcomes:

  • The preservation and conservation of environmentally sensitive sand dunes containing Aboriginal burial areas in the parks and reserves of North Western Victoria.
  • Ongoing maintenance to protect the natural environment containing burial sites.
  • Education around raising awareness of the environmental and cultural sensitivity of the area in order to minimise future activities in sensitive areas, whilst maintaining a positive visitor experience.

3 - Returning Aboriginal Ancestral Remains

6 - Remediation works - filling in the trenches

The innovative practices being undertaken to return Aboriginal Ancestral Remains requires sensitivity to and knowledge of the land.

8 - Remediation of land damaged by FWDs

12 - Regrowth as a result of protection works

Encouraging re-growth of native plants in degraded areas will help stem erosion events.

People and Parks Foundation, as Trustee for the Environment Trust* is seeking support from individuals, organisations and government to deliver improved environmental outcomes for the region. Please visit our website and make a donation, your contribution is greatly appreciated. 

*Donations $2 or more to People and Parks Environment Trust are tax deductible in Australia. For more information about how you can support this important project, please contact Rob Anderson, rob.anderson@peopleandparks.org or 0413 455 111.