Boroondara's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The City of Boroondara acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Owners and original custodians of this land. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

The area now known as the City of Boroondara is on the traditional land of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people. The City of Boroondara’s name comes from the Woi-wurrung language, meaning ‘where the ground is thickly shaded’. The Wurundjeri community have a strong historical, cultural and spiritual connection to their traditional lands. They continue to practise the responsibilities bestowed by their ancestors of protecting, preserving and managing the land according to culture and traditions.

For more information about the history of the Wurundjeri people, visit the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation website

We recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is diverse and those from other Aboriginal communities may be living and participating in Boroondara – each bringing with them their own cultures and histories.

Aboriginal flag

Demographic overview

According to the most recent Census in 2016, the City of Boroondara is home to 324 residents who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Of these, 299 identify as Aboriginal and 25 identify as either Torres Strait Islander or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This was an increase of 91 residents who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander compared to the 2011 Census. 

You can find more data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Boroondara on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website

Aboriginal cultural heritage

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council was created under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 to make sure that Aboriginal people throughout Victoria play a central role in the protection and management of their heritage.

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 recognises Aboriginal people as the primary guardians and keepers of Aboriginal cultural heritage. At a local level, Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are the voice of Aboriginal people in the management and protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

In early June 2021, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council released proposals to vary the boundaries of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation for a 3,721km2 area that lies between their previous registration boundaries. 

The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung were previously recognised as the RAP for the northern part of Boroondara. The traditional owner status of the southern part of Boroondara was undetermined.

In late June 2021, both Traditional Owner groups gave their consent to have their boundaries changed. The accepted changes came into effect on 1 July 2021. Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung are now formally recognised through the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 as the RAP for all of Boroondara.

For more information on the boundary changes and access to an interactive online RAP map, visit The Aboriginal Heritage Council website.

Cultural places to visit in Boroondara 

There are 10 Aboriginal archaeological sites in Boroondara – 2 of which are Aboriginal historic places that are registered with the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council. There are also 4 cultural places in Boroondara that are significant to local history and reconciliation.

Wurundjeri Trail

The Wurundjeri Trail is located at Chandler Reserve along the Birrarung Yarra River (behind Guide Dogs Victoria). It was opened in 2017 and was the result of a collaboration between the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and the City of Boroondara. It showcases the culture and rich history of the area. There are 6 signs along the short trail that provide a deeper understanding of the language, culture and aspirations of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung community. Chandler Park is a critical flora and fauna corridor of the Middle Yarra River and, along with Yarra Bend Park and other Yarra River open space frontages, represents one of Boroondara's most significant natural heritage assets.

The Wurundjeri Garden

The Wurundjeri Garden is located on Glan Avon Road in Hawthorn. The Hawthorn Historical Society and Hawthorn Council (which has since combined into the City of Boroondara) created the Wurundjeri Garden with local community members, as part of a Bush Tucker Trail in 1990. Onion weed and ivy were removed and replaced with endemic native plant species and foods. 

Wominjeka Garden

The Wominjeka Garden is located at St Oswalds in Glen Iris. It is a reconciliation garden dedicated to the process of reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Canoe Tree Monument

The Canoe Tree Monument is located on Bowyer Avenue in Kew. Its plaque commemorates a significant scarred canoe tree, estimated at the time to be more than 1,000 years old, which was cut down in the late 1950s. The plaque has the following inscription:

'Commemorating the Aborigines and their craftsmanship. This district, formerly their meeting place, was known to them as Bark Hill. On this site grew an immense gum tree from which the Aborigines carved a large bark canoe. This canoe was probably launched on a passing stream which now flows underground to the river Yarra.'

The monument was a joint initiative of the Aborigines Advancement League – Kew Branch and the Kew Historical Society. It and was built in 1965. Former residents remember the site being a regular gathering place for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the 1960s.

Boroondara reconciliation activities

We are developing our draft Boroondara Reconciliation Strategy to formalise our commitment to reconciliation in our community. The strategy will include a 4-year vision for reconciliation in the community and set a clear roadmap for implementing reconciliation initiatives in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community.

We will present the draft strategy for public comment in late 2021. To find out more, visit our Reconciliation Strategy page

In the past 5 years, the City of Boroondara has also participated in the following key activities:

  • We fly the Aboriginal flag permanently at the Camberwell Civic Centre and Kew Library. 
  • We consulted with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung to develop a personalised Acknowledgement of Country for the Mayor to give at Council’s Citizenship Ceremony on Australia Day 2021. 
  • We have regular meetings between Council officers and representatives from the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation to plan joint projects and activities. 
  • We hold an annual event to mark National Reconciliation Week or NAIDOC Week. 
  • We invite an Elder from the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation to perform a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony at reconciliation events. 
  • We include Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander content and performers at both the Town Hall Gallery and the Kew Court House. 
  • We partner with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung to hold Wurundjeri Storytime sessions for children at libraries. 
  • We plant, maintain and provide signage about Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander flora in Wurundjeri Garden and Chandler Park. 
  • We develop an internal protocol to provide staff with guidance about giving an Acknowledgement of Country at internal and external meetings and events. 
  • We installed a plaque outside the Council Chamber that acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Boroondara. 
  • We partner with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to deliver projects and activities, such as the Wurundjeri Heritage Trail at Chandler Park. 
  • We bring an internal working group of staff together from across Council to plan activities to progress reconciliation locally.   
  • We fulfil Council’s statutory obligations in relation to cultural heritage management under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018
  • We identify actions in Council’s internal Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2020–22 to support the  recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This includes placement in early 2021 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traineeship positions.

Key Aboriginal organisations

  • Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation – The Registered Aboriginal Party for all of Boroondara. Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders can be invited to perform a Welcome to Country and/or smoking ceremony on all areas of land in Boroondara. 
  • First Peoples State Relations – Protects Aboriginal cultural rights and promotes the advancement of treaty, truth and self-determination.
  • Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place  – A community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation based in the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place is committed to retaining, promoting, and strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity. 
  • Moondani Toombadool Centre at Swinburne University – Create in 2018, the Moondani Toombadool Centre is responsible for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters at Swinburne. This includes governance, student services, teaching and learning, research, staff, culture, engagement and governance.
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc – The peak body for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in Victoria, with 32 Aboriginal community-controlled organisations as members. 
  • Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency – A state-wide Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation servicing children, young people, families, and community members. 
  • Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service – The lead specialist Aboriginal-specific family violence service that provides a service in the eastern metropolitan region, but also includes the inner and outer east areas. 
  • Reconciliation Victoria – A state-wide body that promotes reconciliation across Victoria.
  • Boroondara Reconciliation Network – A volunteer-based, non-profit unincorporated group that's committed to furthering the process of reconciliation locally. The group was formed in 2017 as the successor to the Boroondara ANTaR group.

For more information, please contact Liz O’Loughlin, Social Inclusion Policy and Project Officer on (03) 9278 4693 or [email protected]  
 

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