South-west Aboriginal history 'a story that needs to be told'

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Jason Kanoa
Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Jason Kanoa

Funding to improve visitors’ exposure to Aboriginal culture and history is a great opportunity for the region, a south-west Indigneous leader says.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Jason Kanoa said a $225,000 grant from the state government to develop a strategy focusing on Aboriginal culture and tourism in the Great Ocean Road region would bring benefits.

The strategy will be led by Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism in collaboration with traditional owners and will look at areas including Cape Otway, Moyjil, Tower Hill, Budj Bim and the You Yangs.

“There’s a significant cultural footprint here in south-west Victoria and a story that needs to be told within the south-west community and abroad,” Mr Kanoa said.

He said it was important to let people know there were Aboriginal people in south-west Victoria with “strong connections, strong stories and strong identity”.

“Whilst we don’t have the full language like areas such as the Northern Territory, we still have a very strong cultural and spiritual connection to this country,” Mr Kanoa said.

“For us to share that with people within and outside our region is a good thing.”

The CEO also said creating a strategy would provide good training and development for members of the south-west Aboriginal community.

The strategy will aim to boost understanding and appreciation of 60,000 years of Aboriginal culture.

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford announced the funding during a visit to the region on Friday.

“We’re collaborating with Aboriginal groups, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism and local governments to grow tourism and jobs in the Great South Coast region while preserving and celebrating its proud Indigenous history,” she said

The minister met with the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Corporation to discuss the Budj Bim master plan, which will improve visitor offerings at the unique landscape.

The site, on Australia’s World Heritage nomination list, dates back more than 6600 years and is considered one of the world’s first engineering projects, predating the Egyptian pyramids.