This WordPress Site is designed to complement the ‘Oncountry Learning Course’ that I teach at the University of Melbourne. The course is a field based program taught in Yorta Yorta country in the first week of February each year-see Yorta Yorta country below. It is open for students that have completed the first year Indigenous Studies program at the University and is accredited towards their undergraduate studies. Other Oncountry camps in Yorta Yorta Country are held during the year and will be an integral part of the future management plan for the newly created Barmah-Millewa National Parks.
The Oncountry course is designed to give students a deeper understanding of Yorta Yorta connections with the ancestral lands and their ongoing struggle to achieve land justice and the protection of their cultural heritage. With the recent decision by the Victorian and New South Wales Government to establish the Barmah-Millewa National Parks, the Yorta Yorta have been recognised as the traditional owners and are in the process of negotiating Joint Management and Land Justice agreements with both Governments.
The Barmah-Millewa is a natural and cultural landscape of unique Red Gum Forest Wetlands. They are of profound National and International importance and are located in the heartland of Yorta Yorta traditional lands-see map on site. These forest wetlands are now being replenished by the significant rainfalls that have fallen during the winter which will provide a lifeline for the red gums and their survival of the drought of the last decade. More detail will be added on land and water based issues and their importance to the Yorta Yorta on this site.
Students participating in the course get an opportunity to visit some of the key sites and learn of the antiquity of Yorta Yorta connections with the ancestral lands which is estimated to be at least 60,000 years.
Once a timeline of Yorta Yorta occupation is established students are then introduced to the diversity of programs and service delivery organisations that operate in the region. This helps students gain a deeper insight into the roles and functions of community based organisations and the multitude of programs that they deliver in 21st Century Indigenous Affairs policy and administration not to mention the difficulties that organisations face in maintaining these programs in regional Australia.
Different ways of Learning using the ‘Storyline Approach’
The course is unique in its teaching content and style. It utilises much of the oral knowledge and storylines of Yorta Yorta History and Culture which is supplemented by the disciplines of Archaeology, History, Politics, Legal studies and Natural Resource Managment. The main subjects that it focuses on are Indigenous rights based issues, in relation to land, water, cultural heritage, natural resource management, and the environment.
Forest Wetlands and River Based People