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Djab Wurrung: VIC Supreme Court intervenes after destruction of Aboriginal sacred site sparks outrage

The Victorian Supreme Court has banned the Andrews Government from further destroying the Djab Wurrung sacred site – at least until 2 pm tomorrow.

On October 26, a culturally significant and sacred tree for the Djab Wurrung Indigenous Australian people was felled to make way for a highway upgrade. For the last decade, the Djab Wurruang people have been locked in a battle with the state to prevent the destruction of the Aboriginal sacred site, and they’ve been camping on the sacred site in protest for over 860 days in order to protect it.

Monday’s decision to fell the tree was the last straw for the Djab Wurrung community, and tensions caused a serious commotion between police and protesters. Around 60 protesters were aggressively arrested, removed, and fined $5,000 each for breaching COVID-19 regulations.

Djab Wurrung
Photo: Albert Cruz

The tree, known as the Directions Tree, was thought to be a fiddleback around 100 years old. However, protesters claim that in actuality the tree was a yellow box species that had been around for more than 350 years. Aboriginal landowners had been negotiating with the Victorian Government in order to save only a handful of 250 “culturally significant trees”, and officials have since claimed that the Directions Tree was not on the protection list.

Whilst the government claims that the removal of the tree was required to widen a deadly stretch of the Western Highway between Buangor and Ararat, the news of the felled tree, and the blatant use of police force, outraged Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia alike, seeing a rally of passionate civilians take to social media to protest instead.

Finally, as public pressure mounted, the Victorian Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the case in court, banning the government from initiating the destruction of the Aboriginal sacred site until after the hearing, which takes place at 10:30 am tomorrow.