Opponents of a plan to destroy culturally significant trees in western Victoria have called on supporters to file their complaints with Premier Daniel Andrews‘ office, one day after workers chopped down a tree of immense spiritual importance to the local Djab Wurrung people.
On Monday, workers felled a yellow box tree, known as a directions tree, as part of the Victorian Government’s $157 million highway duplication project between Buangor and Ararat.
The project has faced significant legal challenges from protest groups, who say the trees’ significance to the Djab Wurrung people should exempt them from destruction.
Now, supporters of the protest movement have asked Victorians to take action against the development.
Here’s what you can do:
Contact Premier Daniel Andrews’ office
Activists have called on Victorians to voice their concerns directly to Andrews’ office.
Sally Rugg, executive director of petition platform Change.org, has supported and amplified those calls online.
“Rapid response public outcries work,” she said on Twitter. “The Gov can recall police and loggers in an instant.”
Brilliant! This is what we need to see from #IStandWithDan folks 🙂
Premier Andrews and his Gov cares deeply about what his core voters think. Please, stand with Djab Wurrung people and call the Premier’s office: 9651 5000
Melbourne, must continue to be ‘all in this together’ https://t.co/3gZM8soozS
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) October 27, 2020
Email Victorian Government MPs
Supporters have also compiled an email template addressed to Andrews, Minister for Transport Jacinta Allen, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams, and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.
Anyone looking to contact those MPs over the matter can access the template here.
Raise awareness of the highway project
Advocacy group Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance has also called on followers to raise community awareness of the highway development and its impact.
Right now @DanielAndrewsMP is committing cultural genocide with Victorian police. Dragging sovereign Djab Wurrung women off their land. Chopping down ancient sacred trees. Shame! Get the word out and head to the embassy now! Live stream here. https://t.co/Olc06fZpKh pic.twitter.com/2ydYbvt6zf— WACA (@akaWACA) October 26, 2020
Donate to the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy
A GoFundMe page raising funds for the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy – whose members have camped along the highway since 2018 to protest the development – has now surpassed $344,000.
Follow the latest updates and keep yourself informed
Advocates have put their bodies on the line, and the ABC reports that Victoria Police arrested 25 people at the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy on the Western Highway this morning.
Speaking about the confrontation at today’s COVID-19 media briefing, Andrews defended the decision to cut down the tree, saying it came after a lengthy consultation and agreement with the site’s traditional owners.
But Michael Kennedy, a lawyer who has represented the protest group in court, today told the ABC the felled directions tree was previously identified as having great cultural significance.
In addition to community opposition, Kennedy today declared to the Sydney Morning Herald he will take to the Supreme Court to seek further protection for the trees.
Lidia Thorpe, Victoria’s first Aboriginal senator, has also declared that Andrews and Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley “have blood on [their] hands” because of the tree’s destruction.
DjabWurrung land protectors being arrested and forcibly removed from country whilst ancestor trees are being desecrated @DanielAndrewsMP @sussanley you have DjabWurrung blood on your hands ???? pic.twitter.com/9zGNrEF7TT— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) October 26, 2020