The Yarra River and its lands are the lifeblood of Greater Melbourne, a magnificent natural asset flowing through more than 200km of valleys, agricultural land, suburbs and into the heart of the Melbourne CBD. Known as Birrarung to the Wurundjeri, the river is central to the history and culture of Traditional Owners. The Yarra is an iconic symbol of Victoria, providing 70% of Melbourne’s drinking water and boasting 2,450 hectares of urban parklands and green open spaces.
We are now at a turning point in the river’s history. With future challenges of climate change and population growth imminent on the horizon, it is crucial the health and amenity of the Yarra is improved and protected for generations to come.
In recognition of this, the Victorian State Government appointed the Yarra Ministerial Advisory Committee in 2015 to provide independent advice to government on the key issues and opportunities for the river. The government released the Yarra River Action Plan in response to the advice and central to the action plan were requirements to strengthen legislation, combine land use and waterway planning to provide a future blueprint for the Yarra and above all, ensure community is at the heart of the process.
This paper will describe how the combined strength of the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017, collaboration with the community to develop a 50 year vision and uniting land use and waterway planning is shaping the future of this iconic waterway.