Major Road Projects Victoria has gained the support of the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation regarding the revised Western Highway Upgrade route.
The two organisations have been working closely to ensure the upgrade delivers the best possible results for all community members.
Major Road Projects Victoria Director of Development and Performance Andrew Williams said the Aboriginal community’s close relationship and spiritual association with the land has been recognised within the new agreement.
“We’re making sure the Western Highway Upgrade is delivered in a way that respects the cultural values associated with the land and its Traditional Owners,” Mr Williams said.
“This is a project of national importance which is why we’ve worked extensively and respectfully with the Eastern Maar to reach agreement ensuring the Aboriginal community is at the forefront of what we do.”
“We’re continuing to work respectfully with the Djab Wurrung community, and with the support of the Eastern Maar, we’ll look to recommence work along the approved alignment of the Western Highway Upgrade.”
Two trees initially identified by the aboriginal community as culturally significant were saved after the realignment of roadworks, but Major Road Projects Victoria has more recently been able to confirm a further 13 trees safety.
“The Western Highway is the main link between Melbourne and Adelaide and is the busiest undivided national highway in Australia – this upgrade will duplicate the road to improve safety for drivers,” Mr Williams said.
The Djab Wurrung People are not happy with the agreement, saying the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation does not speak for all their people.
“We have already said no to just the trees being saved. We will go through every avenue and court possible with a good chance of winning,” a Djab Wurrung Elder said.
“The 12.5 km stretch is all significant to us, our songline and I will stand by what the archeologist Heather Builth’s report (who has 30 years experience) states which clarifies all the significance of the trees and artefacts on that 12.5 km stretch we are protecting.”
“We will not roll over for anyone!”
Major Road Projects Victoria is now awaiting the outcome of an application to the Department of the Environment and Energy regarding the highway.
Works will not commence for another fortnight.
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-Founder of AC News in 2017