Reconciliation and recognition

The majority of Hepburn Shire is on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung. They are the traditional custodians of this land, formally recognised in a Recognition and Settlement Agreement, signed in 2013.

Council recognises and values the unique relationship of the Dja Dja Wurrung people to their traditional country and accordingly has developed the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan(PDF, 16MB) and is working on the development of an Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2022.

Council also acknowledges the neighbouring Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri to our South East and the Wadawurrung to our South West, and pays respect to all Aboriginal peoples, their culture and lore. 

What is a Reconciliation Action Plan?

A Reconciliation Action Plan is a formal statement of commitment to reconciliation. There are four types of Reconciliation Action Plans – Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate.

Council’s 2022 Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan outlines actions for achieving Council’s vision for reconciliation. It builds on significant reconciliation projects undertaken in the past few years.

The 2022 Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan will guide Council’s commitment to achieving a deeper understanding and the best approach to advance reconciliation.

“…a reconciled Australia is one where our rights as First Australians are not just respected but championed in all the places that matter…”

- Kirstie Parker - Board Member, Reconciliation Australia.

What does reconciliation mean in Hepburn Shire?

Council is committed to:

  1. Further recognising, strengthening, protecting and promoting Dja Dja Wurrung culture and connection to country, for the benefit of our local communities
  2. Increasing opportunities for reconciliation in the Hepburn Shire
  3. Improving Hepburn Shire Council business processes to create a culturally safe work place
  4. Ensuring Council officers have the knowledge and resources to meet Council’s obligations for maintaining and managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage locally

Reconciliation is about unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-indigenous Australians. It is about respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and valuing justice and equity for all Australians.

- Reconciliation Australia (2022)

Reconciliation Action Plan outcomes

Council’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan was developed with staff, Councillors, our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and representatives from relevant organisations. It guided our commitment to ensuring reconciliation is at the core of our organisation and a foundation for all our services.

Significant Reconciliation Action Plan projects and initiatives implemented to date include:

  • Council’s formal recommendation to rename Jim Crow Creek to Larni Barramal Yaluk
  • Opening the Manna Gums Frontier Wars Memorial
  • Cultural awareness training for Council staff
  • Recognition of Sorry Day
  • Celebration of Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.

Recommendation to rename Jim Crow Creek to Larni Barramal Yaluk

In April 2022, Council recommended changing the name of a creek which flows between Newstead and Hepburn from Jim Crow Creek to Larni Barramal Yaluk.

Council proposed the name change to:

  • Recognise Aboriginal heritage and to reinstate the Dja Dja Wurrung language into the landscape,
  • Remove a name that is offensive and derogatory. The term ‘Jim Crow’ is rooted in racial segregation and anti-black racism.

The final decision rests with the Registrar from the Office of Geographic Names Victoria. Find out more

Manna Gums Frontier Wars Memorial

In July 2021, Council, in partnership with Djaara, opened the first Avenue of Honour to Acknowledge Aboriginal lives lost in defending their traditional lands during early contact and ‘settlement’. The Memorial Avenue is on the Daylesford-Malmsbury Road near Coomoora.

View the ceremony below.

One minute video

16 minute video

The Manna Gums, along the Malmsbury-Daylesford Road in Daylesford, is the site for an Aboriginal Peoples Memorial Avenue, opened at the conclusion of NAIDOC Week 2021.

Cr Lesley Hewitt said the memorial was an opportunity to honour the loss of lives, the sacrifice and suffering inflicted on Aboriginal people during the frontier wars.

“This year’s NAIDOC theme is Heal Country and we hope this Memorial is a step forward in healing Country and healing people, acknowledging that the two are deeply connected.”

“Council is taking a leading role in honouring the lives and acknowledging the suffering of Aboriginal people in our region.  Acts of reconciliation such as this, change attitudes to settlement and show a willingness to work together for a better future,” said Cr Hewitt.

The establishment of this Avenue of Honour is a public acknowledgement, the first of its kind in our country.

Rodney Carter, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation CEO, said “The Frontier Wars Memorial Avenue affords a greater recognition to our fallen Ancestors and helps us all heal”.

This is an initiative of the Hepburn Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Committee.

Reconciliation videos

‘Peaks, Rivers and Wetlands’ is a three-part film series about truth telling and reconciling our shared history at contact. The films take viewers on a journey across the landscape with Djaara Elder Uncle Rick Nelson and Professor Barry Golding to environments and events from the early contact period that marked the beginning of unimaginable loss and trauma for Dja Dja Wurrung people.

An initiative of Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Committee, ‘Peaks, Rivers and Wetlands’  was highly commended in the 2021 HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Awards in the Local Government category.

Watch the series

Welcome to Country – Uncle Rick Nelson welcomes you on to Dja Dja Wurrung lands, to commence your Tour of ‘Peaks, Wetlands and Rivers’.

Peaks, Wetlands and Rivers - PART ONE Mount Greenock

Peaks, Wetlands and Rivers - PART TWO Merin Merin 

Peaks, Wetlands and Rivers - PART THREE Loddon River at Neereman 

Mayor’s speech – Reconciliation Week 2022

Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie

Reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. On this DJAARA land we are on today, it is about paying respect, working together and alongside Dja Dja Wurrung people, being brave and empowering positive changes to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation and First Nations self-determination.

Reconciliation is an ongoing journey that reminds us that while generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort.

Australia’s colonial history is characterised by First Nations land dispossession, attempted genocide and racism.  Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have managed through their own resilience to continue to nurture culture and connections with country. And over the last half-century, many significant steps towards reconciliation have been taken.

National Reconciliation week happens on 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

The National Reconciliation Week 2022 theme, “Be Brave. Make Change.” is a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, organisations and government—to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians.

Part of the challenge of reconciliation is that an agreement on its correct and proper path is not unanimously apparent. Concerns remain for some First Nations and non-indigenous people alike about how priorities and promises have been made, what actions have or have not been taken and how people are engaged, and who has been included in or excluded from these discussions.

Most recently we have seen a positive shift federally to embrace the Uluru Statement of the Heart which aims to establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling.

For some, however, reconciliation is more simply about a need to pay the rent owed to First Nations people directly. That sovereignty to the land, sea and air was never ceded by Aboriginal people in the first place and is still therefore and always will be Aboriginal people’s land. Every day, we consume food grown on Indigenous land, live in houses built on indigenous land and enjoy the benefits that flow from this opportunity. Paying the rent is a step towards acknowledging our debt to First Nations peoples and the harm that has been caused to their continuing health and wellbeing.

Self-determination for indigenous people plays a big role in the recently released Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Strategy 2021 – 2026. It states that the Victorian Government knows Aboriginal Victorians are best placed to make decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. The document also acknowledges that all levels of government must change the way they work and engage with Aboriginal people. It identifies the four enablers needed to achieve self determination and they are: Prioritise Culture; Address trauma and healing; Address racism and promote cultural safety; and, Transfer power and resources to Aboriginal communities. The Hon. Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, states the ‘Strategy values and emphasises shared roles and responsibilities, and the need for partnerships between local government and Aboriginal Victorians based on sharing, listening, care, trust, truth-telling and understanding’.

I’m proud to say that our own Hepburn Shire Council has demonstrated its commitment to Reconciliation through developing a close working relationship with DJAARA, creating a dedicated Reconciliation Officer role and developed a Reconciliation Action Plan in partnership with Traditional Owners and other community stakeholders.

There have been several outstanding reconciliation projects in the past couple of years including the innovative Manna Gums Frontier Wars Memorial. Hepburn has also been the lead organisation in undertaking a community education and engagement process leading to a formal recommendation to Geographic Names Victoria to rename the Jim Crow Creek to Larni Barramul Yaluk, in line with the wishes of representatives of the Traditional Owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung.

Hepburn Shire will commence the development of its second Reconciliation Action Plan in the second half of this year, guided by a new Reconciliation Advisory Committee. Information about how to express interest in joining the Committee will be made available in the next couple of months

This reconciliation week, I encourage you all to reach out, get involved at one of our shire libraries events, be brave and make change in your own spheres of influence for the benefit of all Australians, but foremost for First Nations peoples. I particularly enjoyed going online to listen and learn from Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Rick Nelson talk about his and his community’s experiences and history locally.

Traditional Custodian-owned businesses

There are many talented Traditional Custodian-owned businesses throughout Victoria.

Search these websites to find them in your local area. 

Supply Nation | Australia's largest national directory of Indigenous businesses

Victorian Aboriginal Business Directory




Visit Djaara (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) to book cultural services (e.g. Welcome to Country), language requests and acknowledgement plaque orders.

For more information on reconciliation, contact Council’s Reconciliation Officer Annette Millar at