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Five years ago these strong Dja Dja Wurrung individuals stood side-by-side to witness their Recognition & Settlement Agreement (RSA) signed with the State of Victoria, acknowledging the Dja Dja Wurrung as Traditional Owners of part of Central Victoria.

It was an emotional day for the Dja Dja Wurrung people. Their voices were finally heard. Their rights finally recognised. An opportunity to self-determine their futures. A proud day for all.


Now five years on, the Dja Dja Wurrung community will gather in Rosalind Park this Saturday night from 8pm for an evening of song, dance and story to celebrate this landmark achievement.  


Everyone, regardless of birthplace or background, is invited to take part in the celebration, and have the opportunity to hear stories that were passed down from the stars, that are reflected onto country.


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Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation CEO Rodney Carter

Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DDWCAC) CEO Rodney Carter said this celebration was an opportunity to remember and respect all of those who had been a part of this milestone.

 “We celebrate now not just for the 5 years of our agreement with the state,” he said.

“We celebrate for the fallen, those that come long before us that gave us this opportunity, we sing and dance for them.”

Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Graham Atkinson said he was proud to be taking part in the Yapenya performance this Saturday evening to celebrate this achievement and hopes to see the local wider community there to enjoy the night.


“It is an opportunity to reflect on the important achievements of the DDWCAC since signing the RSA. We now have a fully operational Traditional Owner Group Entity employing staff in the cultural heritage management, economic development and natural resource management sectors across our RSA region,” he said.


“The event is an excellent opportunity to showcase the revival and practice of Dja Dja Wurrung culture through dance, song, storytelling and language that will be performed this Saturday evening under the theme Yapenya.


“I think the Dja Dja Wurrung community should be proud of what we've achieved.”





Trent Nelson is a proud Dj Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta man. He lives on the lands of his Grandfather. Trent is Chairperson for the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, as well as Dja Dja Wurrung Team leader at Parks Victoria, where he manages the cultural heritage of six joint- managed parks collaboration with three rangers and a project coordinator. The Joint management provides opportunities for traditional owners and parks Victoria to work closely together. A significant practice that has been reinstated at Parks Victoria and is implementing cultural burns on Dja Dja Wurrung country and sharing knowledge with community.


Harley Dunolly - Lee a direct lineage to Dja Dja Wurrung country, he has completed his degree and honours in Lingiust and works at VACL (Victorian Aboriginal Centre for Language) For the last 6 months Harley has been contributing to the collaborative process with other Dja Dja Wurrung People. Together they are bringing the stories, songs  and dances to life to be presented in Ceremony at Yapenya 2018.


Uncle Graham Atkinson is an Echuca born Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung elder, who has spent a large portion of his life fighting for the rights of Aboriginal people. He is a leading member of the community, having served on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Aboriginal Heritage Council, Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group, and as a director of the National Native Title Council. Currently Uncle Graham sits on the Indigenous Land Corporation board of directors, and is deputy chair of National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, as well as chair of Barpa Pty Ltd. Uncle Graham has also served as an armament fitter with the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, taking care of the armoury at the Australian army base, Nui Dat, in South Vietnam. After returning to Australia, Uncle Graham went on to become Victoria’s first tertiary qualified Aboriginal social worker, graduating Bachelor of Social Work in 1977. Education is very important to Uncle Graham, as shown by his graduating with a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts. “My message for young Aboriginal people is persistence and determination and you are as good as, and equal to, the next person. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve.”


Aunty Marilyne Nicholls is a strong Watti Watti, Barrapa Barrapa, Dja Dja Wurrung, Yorta Yorta, and Ngarrindjeri woman who has lived most of her life around the Murray River (Milloo) system. Aunty Marilyne is a known Master-weaver, has worked as a nurse and Aboriginal Support Worker in hospitals and is currently working for the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation as a Rivers and Water Health Project Officer. “Water is life, and holds huge significance for the Dja Dja Wurrung people as a place to live, and part of traditional ceremonies. Everybody needs to play their part for the future of better water… and the impact it plays on that bigger biodiversity of life.” In her weaving, Aunty Marilyne was encouraged and taught at a young age by her mother, and her family have collected grasses from the same place for many years - her family have visited and camped in that place for the past three generations and have a strong connection to country. Aunty Marilyne has been sharing her weaving knowledge for over 20 years, with 5 exhibitions and winning the Victorian Indigenous Art Award.


Tori Kerr is a young Dja Dja Wurrung woman of 15 who has been actively involved in her culture from a very young age. 

Tori was a part of the 2013 Yapenya ceremony, in which she took part in the dancing, and read an acrostic poem at the age of 10 which she created about reconciliation. Tori has a strong connection to her culture, such as doing Welcome to Country speeches, which is a passion she shares with her brother, sisters, and father, and takes an active role in her community. 

 Tori wants to bring people together to educate them about culture and to inspire other young Aboriginal people to achieve their goals and to connect with culture. 

A high achiever, Tori hopes to go on to study and take on a career in forensics and criminology.


Aunty Brenda Kerr is a Dja Dja Wurrung elder who has resided in Bendigo and its surrounds for most of her life. 

A strong community leader and senior cultural heritage advisor, she shares her knowledge with her family, community, clan and nation. Aunty Brenda is also a Sacred Fire keeper, as well as knowledge keeper of Women’s Business and sacred sites on Dja Dja Wurrung country and has played an integral part in keeping Dja Dja Wurrung culture and language alive, by performing smokings and Welcome to Countries.

 Aunty Brenda is a strong fighter for social justice issues and is also a keen advocate for the rights of her people, and Aboriginal people everywhere. 

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Rodney Carter is a descendant of the Dja Dja Wurrung people of Central Victoria and Yorta Yorta people of Northern Victoria and lives at Bendigo in regional Victoria.  He has extensive experience in cultural heritage management and a particular interest in linking ‘people to  landscape’  through  the  integration  of  biodiversity and cultural heritage projects. A defining moment for Rodney was negotiating for, and being a signatory to, the Dja Dja Wurrung people's native title settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.


Rodney was a member of the Dja Dja Wurrung negotiation team that negotiated a settlement agreement with the State of Victoria over a period of three years. Rodney also led negotiations on behalf of Dja Dja Wurrung with neighbouring group Wadawurrung which resulted in a boundary agreement in 2012. This agreement supported the appointment of both groups as Registered Aboriginal Parties for their agreed countries and the Dja Dja Wurrung’s settlement agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act. This resulted in his people signing a ‘Recognition and Settlement Agreement’ on the 24th October 2013 with the State of Victoria.


Rodney is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Group, which is a Corporate Entity to implement and manage the RSA for his people. Before this he was a Game Manager at the States Game Management Authority where his knowledge of hunting and animal species behaviour and habitat blends with his cultural knowledge to assist him in managing Victoria’s premier game species of duck, quail and deer. He has also worked with the Victorian Public Land Fire Management as a Heritage Specialist and assisted the state’s working group upon developing heritage roles in the Incident Management Structure. He was also a Project Manager for the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Centre as part of the Melbourne Museum project and became the Bunjilaka's Inaugural Centre Manager. 


Rodney was a previous Chairperson of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council for 2 years and has been a member of Council since its inception in 2006. He is a member of the state’s Regional Partnerships Committee for Loddon Campaspe and the states ‘Water for Country’ Project Control Group.

NewsAlexandra SheehyNews, Treaty