Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owner John Roberts and Cindy Roberts.
Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owner John Roberts and Cindy Roberts.

Traditional owners on Dunoon Dam: ‘enough is enough’

Widjabul Wia-bal Traditional Owners have rejected bringing the proposed Dunoon Dam back to the area's water strategy.

A rescission motion has been submitted by three councillors to keep the dam as a possibility and will be discussed in next month's Rous meeting.

The dam would inundate ancient burial sites and extensive evidence of occupation in the past and in recent times.

John Roberts, a senior elder of the Widjabul Wia-bal people, said he was one of the stakeholders consulted in 2011 about the impact of the Dunoon Dam on cultural heritage.

"In the 2011 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment prepared for Rous, we stakeholders said with one voice that no level of disturbance was acceptable to us," he said.

"We still say that. Nothing has changed. There is no need for another study. Our opinion has not changed."

"Our cultural heritage is a direct connection to our ancestors. We have been here for thousands of years. These sites provide us with a link to our traditions, our land and our living heritage. They allow us to educate our young ones in their history."

Mr Roberts said elders and Widjabul Wia-bal people insisted that Rous County Council abandon plans for the Dunoon Dam.

"So many of our cultural sites have been destroyed. To destroy more is unacceptable to the Traditional Owners," said Mr Roberts.

"We are tired of being 'consulted' and then ignored. Enough is enough".

 

Activist Annie Kia launching the Water Alliance Northern Rivers in Lennox Head.
Activist Annie Kia launching the Water Alliance Northern Rivers in Lennox Head.

Also against the idea is Annie Kia, spokeswoman for Water Northern Rivers.

"The decision made on December 16 to remove the Dunoon Dam from Rous plans showed strong leadership from the Rous Board," she said.

"That decision said yes to keeping koalas and platypus alive. It said yes to preserving endangered rainforest communities.

"Above all, the decision said yes to Aboriginal people."

Ms Kia said the proposed rescission motion would not be a positive move.

"We understand that the three councillors were disappointed and we acknowledge their commitment to water security," she said.

" But we urge them to embrace this moment to move forward with other solutions, and to let Rous County Council seize the opportunity to be a leader in contemporary water management.

"Water Northern Rivers will support Rous in making the most of these opportunities, so that our region can become a showcase of innovation in water management."


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