Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Casey

The City of Casey acknowledges that we are on the traditional land of the Bunurong and Wurundjeri People and pays respect to all elders past and present.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2011 recorded 1455 residents from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background with 45.6% of these residents between 0-17 years of age. This is the highest number in metropolitan Melbourne. Historically, the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung (also known as the Bunerong) and the Wurrundjeri people inhabited the land. Today, Aboriginal people from all over Australia live in the municipality.

In Victoria, there are 37,990 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, whilst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia is 548,369 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2011).

The terms Aboriginal and Indigenous are used interchangeably to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Statement of Acknowledgement

In 2003, the City of Casey endorsed a Statement of Acknowledgement to be standard practice and use at all official City of Casey meetings and major events.

At its Council Meeting on 15 May 2012 the City of Casey adopted an updated Statement of Acknowledgement as:

'The City of Casey acknowledges that we are on the traditional land of the Bunurong and Wurundjeri People and pays respect to all elders past and present.' 

This Statement of Acknowledgement recognises that we value the unique status of Aboriginal peoples as the original owners and custodians of this land and waters and is one step on the path to reconciliation. The objective of reconciliation is to create an understanding of the Aboriginal history of Australia and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in that history and in contemporary Australia.

Learning about one another's histories, cultures and heritage is the first step in understanding and respecting each other.

For Aboriginal people, land has a profound spiritual value. Land is a source of life to which Aboriginal people belong by virtue of their birth into a region and group of people.

Why have a Statement of Acknowledgement?

The City of Casey has developed a Statement of Acknowledgement in recognition of the value it places on the unique status of Aboriginal peoples as the original owners and custodians of this land and waters, and is one step on the path to reconciliation.

The aim of reconciliation is to create an understanding of the Aboriginal history of Australia and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in that history and in contemporary Australia.

Learning about one another’s histories, cultures and heritage is the first step in understanding and respecting one another.

Who were our traditional land owners?

Historically, the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung (also known as the Bunerong) and the Wurundjeri peoples inhabited the land. Today, Aboriginal peoples from all over Australia live in the municipality.

About the Statement of Acknowledgement

This statement is used at Council meetings and civic and community functions as part of the welcome or opening.

The City of Casey encourages organisations, groups and people to consider using this Statement of Acknowledgement at formal occasions and as a mark of respect and step forward towards reconciliation for the Traditional Owners of this land.

Organisations are welcome to insert their name in place of ‘The City of Casey’ in the statement and have one of your dignitaries read the passage at the start of your occasion.

Dulin-Tjulali Tor

The City of Casey has a permanent display, known as a Dulin-Tjulali Tor, of the Statement of Acknowledgement outside the City of Casey’s Civic Centre, Magid Drive, Narre Warren.

Dulin (pronounced Doo-Lin) is Wurundjeri and means Proud. Tjulali (pronounced Jew-La-Lee) is Bunerong and means Pride. Tor is a Celtic word used in a number of stone artworks, meaning Rocky Outcrop. The Dulin-Tjulali Tor features Derrimarrt (Bunerong Leader) and William Barak (Wurundjeri Leader) who hold a special place in the history of Aboriginal and European contact history.

Statement of Acknowledgement (291kb)

Aboriginal Gathering Place

An Aboriginal Gathering Place is a culturally safe place to conduct Aboriginal health, cultural, recreation and social activities. It is a meeting place to provide opportunities to further advance and improve the health of Aboriginal people of all genders and ages.

Council has been working with the local Aboriginal community to develop a Gathering Place in Casey.

Inter Council Aboriginal Consultative Committee (ICACC)

The Inter Council Aboriginal Consultative Committee (ICACC) was established in 1997 by Aboriginal people and eight committed local Councils.  Today, ICACC is represented by the Aboriginal community and the City of Casey, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Frankston, City of Kingston, and the Shire of Bass Coast.

The aim of ICACC is to support Aboriginal Communities across the six council regions and to raise awareness of Local Government amongst those communities.

For more information about ICACC, visit the ICACC website.

Aboriginal sites in Casey

Photo of a scar tree
Caption:  Scar tree

Aboriginal sites take on many forms, from the spiritual to the physical remains of pre-settlement campsites.

Sites can vary from scar trees, stone tool artefact scatters, coastal or freshwater shell middens to burial sites.

Casey has a variety of sites within its boundaries, but because of the fragility of these sites and the need to protect them from vandalism; their exact location is not generally made public.

Officers from the City of Casey are working closely with the Aboriginal community to ensure that there is minimal impact to these sites during development of the city.

The Bunurong People

The Bunurong people are Indigenous people from south-east Victoria, their traditional lands are from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, taking in the catchments of the old Carrum swamp, Tarwin River and Westernport Bay, and including Mornington Peninsula, French and Phillip Islands. 

Bunurong people were part of a language group or nation known as Kulin. Bunurong people prefer to be described as Kulin or Bunurong rather than Koorie, which is a word from another Aboriginal language.

The Bunurong People were made up of a number of Clans or Family groups.

The City of Casey lies within the boundary of the Mayone Bulluk Bunurong.

The Mayone Bulluk Bunurong

As with most Indigenous people of the world, Mayone Bulluk cultural, ceremonial and spiritual life was dictated by the seasons through the availability of their sustainable natural resources. And through thousands of years of observation Bunurong people were able to predict the availability of their seasonal resources by certain changes in plant growth and animal behaviour.

For example, the Bunurong people knew that when the first wattles flowered that some species of fish were about to begin spawning, and this would give them enough time to travel to the river and creek mouths to net or spear fish. This sort of knowledge allowed the Bunurong and many other Indigenous people to survive sustainably and comfortably for thousands of generations.

During the summer months the Mayone Bulluk could (and still can) be found at one of their many coastal camps at Mordialloc, Frankston or Warneet on Westernport Bay. Here they would access many of their favourite resources such as bird eggs, fish, shellfish and as always, hunting kangaroo and possum. For vegetables they would collect a variety of bulbs, shoots and foliage like the Warrigal Spinach, after eating their meal the Mayone Bulluk would wash it all down with a lovely drink made from the nectar of the coastal banksia flowers.

Image of abalone (left) and pipis (right) were collected for food from the coastal area

Caption:  Abalone (left) and pipis (right) were collected for food from the coastal area

The Mayone Bulluk lived in small huts, called "Miam'mia", which were made from the boughs of trees or thatched with one of the many grasses or sedges that once flourished on Bunurong land. From these huts, the Mayone Bulluk would launch excursions to forage for yams and hunt kangaroos and possums whose skins they were continually tanning for the purpose of making cloaks and rugs for the coming winter months. The cloaks were also a valuable trade item and it is said that one possum skin cloak made from 50 hides was worth one Greenstone axe head blank.

Greenstone axe blank (left) and ground-edge axe (right). Image courtesy Aboriginal Affairs Victoria Mini-Poster series
Caption:  Greenstone axe blank (left) and ground-edge axe
Image courtesy Aboriginal Affairs Victoria Mini-Poster series

As winter drew near, the Mayone Bulluk families would begin to move inland to their favourite winter camps around present day Dandenong, Cranbourne and Moorooduc, where during the coldest months when kangaroos were frisky, they would meet up with neighbouring Bunurong clans to mount large scale hunts and fulfil ceremonial obligations. They would catch eels and collect the many shoots and mushrooms that were abundant at that time of year. Occasionally the women would show the children how to take seed from an ants’ nest, which the ants unknowingly stored while collecting their own food. The seed would be used to make stomach-filling bread that would be shared with everyone and with a little wild honey was guaranteed to put a smile on everybody's face.

Some would feast on the sweet piths of the tree fern or grass tree while others would be in the many freshwater streams catching eel's and fish while gathering freshwater mussels and crayfish.

The men would teach the young boys the art of snaring and tracking small game, as the young girls learnt the art of making eel traps and basketry. And all the while the Mayone Bulluk would see out the cold in small houses made from the bark of trees, these huts are known as "Willam".

Photo of tree with bark removed
Caption: Tree with bark removed

When the Elders of the Mayone Bulluk observed the first blooms of the black wattle trees, they would begin the trip back down to the swamp and then later onto the coast where they knew the plentiful resources of Port Phillip Bay awaited. Once again the seasons changed and the Mayone Bulluk moved with them.

Today very little of the landscape that the Mayone Bulluk Bunurong can be seen due to introduced land management practices, and wide spread and rapid development. The few remaining sites of cultural, social and spiritual significance to the Bunurong People on Mayone Bulluk land are under threat from development, and sites are being destroyed or disturbed on a daily basis.

Despite still being totally dispossessed of their traditional land, the Bunurong people play an active role in the protection, preservation and awareness of their culture, heritage and environment through the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Source: Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

Promoting Civic Participation in Aboriginal Communities

The Victorian Local Government Association has produced  3 film resources which can support the interest of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men in local government.