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The Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners' strong connection with the land has been legally recognised in a settlement agreement that enables them to jointly manage 10 parks in Eastern Victoria, including The Lakes National Park.
This settlement agreement is a first for Victoria and recognises Aboriginal people's strong connections and understanding of the land and waterways for many thousands of years. Importantly, joint management will ensure they play a central role in managing these parks in the future.
The forest, river, plants and animals are all part of Country and the cultural identity of Victoria's traditional owners. They are valued for the environment and as a vital part of contemporary Aboriginal culture. Protecting, managing and enjoying the land are an important part of this connection.
The Lakes National Park will be jointly managed by the Gunaikurnai people and Parks Victoria.
Traditional Owner Land Management Boards
These boards will be established to oversee the management of both parks for the benefit of all Victorians. This approach will allow the recognised practice of traditional land management techniques and uses in conjunction with the state's contemporary application of reserve and natural resource management systems.
The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (Glawac)
On Friday 22 October 2010, the Federal and Victorian State Governments formally recognised the Gunaikurnai people as the Traditional Owners of over 20 per cent of public land within Gippsland and Eastern Victoria.
The Victorian Government and the Gunaikurnai people formally signed Victoria's first settlement agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
This agreement involved the transfer of ten parks and reserves to the Gunaikurnai as "Aboriginal Title" which will be jointly managed in conjunction with Parks Victoria.
The Lakes National Park is one of the jointly managed parks within Gippsland. This agreement recognises the fact that the Gunaikurnai people have always been connected to their land and are the rightful people who speak for that Country. These parks and reserves are cultural landscapes which are part of our living culture.