BORAL, Australia’s largest construction materials and building products supplier, has announced a 3.06 hectare parcel of land within its Waurn Ponds Cement Works site will be handed back to its Traditional Owners, the Wadawurrung people, early next year.
Boral is currently engaging with local and state government representatives and the community to plan and identify opportunities for redeveloping the balance of its 1035 hectare landholding at Waurn Ponds.
Local cement production activities are expected to move to Boral’s new $130 million facility being built at the Port of Geelong in 2021.
The area known as Duneed Reserve, which runs off Ghazeepore Road is an area of culture significance but one that has a sad history for Wadawurrung people, which has been acknowledged by Boral.
In 1861, just one acre of land was reserved for the Wadawurrung people. This area, roughly 60 per cent of a soccer pitch, was insufficient space to live and continue cultural practices.
Other exclusionary policies at the time, such as a requirement for First Nations people to be back on the reserve before dark, made it impossible for Wadawurrung people to travel freely between the reserve and Greater Geelong area. By 1882 there only seven people living on the site in a small timber shelter and in 1907 the reserve was revoked by the State Lands Department due to a lack of use.
According to Mr Davis, the Executive Officer of the Wadwurring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, the land would be used for education purposes.
“We haven’t set out fully what we will do. Traditional Owners have been using it a little bit for educational purposes already for quite a number of years,” he said.
“The value of this gesture by Boral in returning this site, which holds great significance to the Wadawurrung People, cannot be understated.”
According to Mr Davis, the land represents the first parcel of land handed back to the Wadawurrung.
“Wadawurrung country is over a million hectares, which they were dispossessed of and 3.06 hectares has now been given back.,” he said.
Reconciliation efforts have long been a priority for BORAL and since 2003 the company has been strengthening its commitment to recognising and respecting Traditional Land Owners.
“We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands in which we operate across Australia,” Boral CEO Zlatko Todorcevski said.
“Returning of Country to the Wadawurrung People is an incredibly important step for Boral that demonstrates our deep commitment to reconciliation, key to shaping our future and also healing our past.”
South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman thanked Boral for beginning the process of land return.
“I believe this is a meaningful step towards achieving Treaty with the Traditional Owners and I’d like to congratulate Boral for this generous act,” he said.