Volunteers from South East Water and Mount Eliza Association for Environmental Care completed a planting activity at Ranelagh Beach on 25 May 2021.
South East Water has marked National Reconciliation Week by gathering at Ranelagh Beach in Mount Eliza with the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BLCAC) and Mount Eliza Association for Environmental Care (MEAFC) to heal Country on 25 May 2021.
A smoking ceremony and planting activity completed a major sewer pipe renewal project at the site. The three organisations came together to plant over 1,500 native plants sourced from the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Gathering Place, Seawinds Volunteer Nursery and Advance Nursery.
To acknowledge the cultural significance of the site, South East water also engaged BLCAC’s CEO Dan Turnbull to engrave beautiful Aboriginal designs onto eight marker posts to tell the story of the area. The artwork on each marker post took between 14 and 25 hours to complete.
South East Water worked closely with BLCAC from the start of the renewal project, understanding that the site has high cultural sensitivity for Bunurong Traditional Owners.
South East Water sought approval of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) from BLCAC to undertake the work. South East Water also worked with an archaeologist and BLCAC representatives to salvage shell midden material and artefacts at the site that were uncovered during the works.
Dan Turnbull (pictured below) shared the stories of the marker posts with volunteers on the day, which represent Bunurong tradition and culture.
“It was great working with South East Water. This project is a really special one because this place is of great significance to us and the relationship with South East Water is a strong one and it’s an important one for us.” Said Dan Turnbull, CEO of Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
"It's important to us that we have a great relationship with South East Water so that we're sharing culture, so they're learning a little bit about Bunurong culture and the cultural landscape that they work within.
It’s important for us too because together we can do some really significant things that assist with the healing of Country.”
- Dan Turnbull, CEO of Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
South East Water's Managing Director Lara Olsen said the event was a great way to complete the sewer renewal project, and to celebrate the opportunity to partner with Traditional Owners to work together on projects like this.
“While we regularly engage Traditional Owner groups whenever our works may impact a culturally sensitive site, this project is a great example of how we can do more than just engage or consult our Traditional Owners. We can co-create projects together that recognise and celebrate the history of the land in which we operate.
- Lara Olsen, Managing Director of South East Water
We do our best to reduce our impact on the environment wherever we can, but where our works do have an impact, it's really important that we heal Country by revegetating parts of this coastal environment," said Lara.
Reconciliation Australia endorsed South East Water’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in October 2020. The organisation’s RAP seeks to provide opportunities to create connections and build trust, respect and understanding of First Nations history, and create employment and procurement opportunities for First Nations people.
Watch our video to learn more about the day and some of the stories behind the marker posts from Dan Turnbull.
Note: This event took place on 25 May 2021, prior to new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions coming into place.