Koori cultural heritage group to base itself in Warrnambool

THE state’s newest Aboriginal party is likely to set up its headquarters in Warrnambool. 

The Eastern Maar party was registered in December last year with territory covering a narrow corridor of land between Yambuk to Tyrendarra east and as far north as the Grampians National Park. 

However, a separate native title application before the Federal Court could see that expand as far as Anglesea and the Great Ocean Road as well as taking in the entire Grampians. 

The state government will give the new party $50,000 to establish itself in the south-west. 

Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation spokesman Jeremy Clark said the group was managing cultural heritage sites across the region.

“Currently we have no resources so this will give us some capacity as a group in protecting Aboriginal heritage space,” Mr Clark told The Standard. 

Eastern Maar is already talking to wind farm and mining companies who are eyeing land in the south-west and Grampians. 

“We’re in discussions with a number of companies about how to manage cultural heritage values of the land,” Mr Clark said.

He said the group was likely to base itself in Warrnambool.

Eastern Maar’s other native title claim in the Federal Court will be put on the backburner while the group talks with the state government.

In March last year Eastern Maar sought a three-hundred-fold increase in its territory, taking in 2286 square kilometres, or about 5 per cent of Victoria. The claim only affects Crown land. 

“We’re at the point of negotiating some options with the government,” Mr Clark said. 

South West Coast MP and Premier Denis Napthine said the $50,000 would help establish the new Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP). 

“It’s important that Aboriginal Victorians have a voice in protecting their cultural heritage,” Dr Napthine said.

The Eastern Maar RAP also covers Deen Maar Island (Lady Julia Percy Island), which is jointly shared by Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

There are nine other RAPs in Victoria. 

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