Politics

“Listen To Djab Wurrung”: Activists Crash Victoria Parliament In Attempt To Save Sacred Trees

The government wants to destroy sacred Djab Wurrung land to extend a highway.

djab wurrung birthing trees

A group of activists disrupted Victorian Parliament this afternoon to urge MPs to listen to the Djab Wurrung people, whose sacred birthing trees are threatened by the state government’s attempts to expand a highway.

The group delayed Question Time to hang a banner reading “listen to Djab Wurrung”, and two people superglued their hands to a balustrade in protest. They remained, chanting “listen to Djab Wurrung”, until they were removed by security. A video of the protest shows security ripping the protesters’ hands from the railing, as a voice from Parliament floor says “we should chop her hands off”.

The activists who took part in the protest say they were acting in solidarity with Indigenous leaders from the Djab Wurrung nation, who are campaigning to save sacred trees along the Western Highway Duplication between Buangor and Ararat. The trees include an 800-year-old tree that has seen over 50 generations born inside of a hollow in her trunk, and a 350-year-old directions tree that has been shaped and resembles a woman.

Djab Wurrung traditional owners and supporters have been occupying the land beside the trees for 14 months now, setting up the Djab Wurrung Protection Embassy to protest the Victorian Government’s plans to build a highway through the sacred area. While the Victorian government agreed earlier this year to alter the highway’s route to save thirteen trees, Djab Wurrung traditional owners argue that the landscape surrounding the trees is sacred and should not be sacrificed for a road.

In July, however, federal environment minister Sussan Ley ruled that the project no longer threatens the area’s cultural heritage, and last week the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy was issued with an eviction notice giving them 14 days to leave the area.

“This notice says one thing, the Andrews Government wants to pick a fight with the Traditional Owners of this Land,” Zellenach Djab Mara, Lore Man at the Djab Wurrung Protection Embassy, said at the time.

“We have lived here on Country for 14 months now, and at the end of the day we’re not going to put up with it, we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re not moving until our sacred lands are protected. Sovereignty was never ceded.”

Beth, a student involved in today’s protest at Parliament, urged MPs to listen to the voices of Djab Wurrung traditional owners.

“Today we have demanded that these politicians seated beneath us stop ignoring First Nations People and protect the cultural landscape of the Djab Wurrung and the sacred women’s birthing trees there. The government must listen to all Victorians including the Djab Wurrung people.”

You can find more information about the Djab Wurrung people’s wishes at the Djab Wurrung embassy website. You can see a video of today’s protest below.