80 traditional custodians reject bringing Dunoon Dam back
80 Widjabul Wia-bal traditional custodians have signed a statement expressing their concern about a the possible return of the Dunoon Dam project to Rous County Council.
On February 17, three councillors will raise a rescission motion to reinstate the Dunoon Dam as a possibility within the Future Water Plan 2060.
Last December, Rous County Council voted to remove a proposed Dunoon Dam from the water plan, rezone the land and begin the disposal of Rocky Creek properties.
Spokeswoman Cindy Roberts said they welcomed the December decision by council.
"After that historic meeting we felt that worry lift, we could breathe easy knowing that the graves of our ancestors and important heritage would not be drowned by the Dunoon Dam," she said.
"Now three Rous Councillors are seeking to overturn that decision with a motion to retain the land, to keep the dam option open".
Widjabul elder Uncle Steven Roberts expressed his disappointment at the motion.
"We are sick of having our voices ignored", he said.
"For years we have explained the importance of our heritage and expressed our opposition to its destruction.
"How many more times do we have to say this? There are already two cultural heritage reports that say the Rocky Creek site is of huge significance.
"We ask the voting Rous councillors to stand strong on their December decision and reject the rescission motion".
The full statement by Widjabul Wia-bal traditional custodian reads:
"We, Custodians of Widjabul Wia-bal lands of the Bundjalung Nation, and neighbouring tribes, want you to know that the area to be affected by the proposed Dunoon Dam is significant to us, to our people.
"We need to protect this land. It is important to our ancestors and for our future generations to be able to connect to our ancestors and traditions.
"This land holds our relationship with our living heritage and culture.
"For thousands of generations we have lived on this land and protected it while it protected and fed us. To destroy this land is to destroy the environment which sustains us, the proposed dam would destroy the learning grounds for future generations.
"The suggestion to drown our sites to protect them (as stated in the 2013 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment) is deeply offensive to us.
"Additionally, the valley to be drowned by the dam at the end of Fraser Road is the site where we were moved to after we were dispossessed just over 100 years ago. It is important as part of our survival journey.
"We, the Traditional Custodians of this land, will not accept its destruction. No compensation will replace its importance to us and our following generations.
"We call on Rous County Council to return the land that it controls to the Traditional Custodians.
"Do not construct the Dunoon Dam. Do not destroy our living culture."