The Goulburn Broken Catchment has a rich and diverse community. The Catchment has an estimated population of 215,000 people (Montecillo 2012), which includes 6,000 Indigenous Australians, many who identify as Traditional Owners of this area.
The Traditional Owners of the Goulburn Broken Catchment have an intrinsic connection to the land and water resources within the landscape. Traditional Owners in the north of the Catchment are represented by Yorta Yorta Nation, whose traditional lands include the northern plains of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers. Yorta Yorta Nation is defined by eight clan groups: Moira; Kailtheban; Wollithiga; Nguaria-iiliam-wurrung; Ulupna; Kwat Kwat; Bangerang and Yalaba Yalaba. Some Bangerang people and other groups prefer to be recognised as a distinct cultural group.
The Cooperative Management Agreement 2004, between the State of Victoria and Yorta Yorta Nation, is significant for land managers as it provides Yorta Yorta with a formal role in managing designated areas of Crown Land in northern Victoria.
The south of the Catchment forms part of the traditional lands of Taungurung Clans, which includes the mountains and rivers to the Great Divide. Taungurung Clans is defined by nine clans: Buthera Balug; Look William; Moomoom Gundidj; Nattarak Balug; Nira Balug; Warring-Illum Balug; Yarran-Illam; Yeeren-Illam-Balug and Yowung-Illam Balug. Traditional Owners’ knowledge of land and water resources and cultural heritage in the landscape is rich and unique.
The Catchment boasts a strong history of Indigenous advocacy and leadership locally, nationally and internationally. The Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC) and Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (TCAC) are Registered Aboriginal Parties, under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Registered Aboriginal Party boundaries across the Goulburn Broken Catchment
Approximately 10 per cent of the Catchment population was born overseas. Migrants mainly from the British Isles took up landholdings in the 1800s. Since World War II there has been an influx of migrants from Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and Turkey and many other countries. Over 90 per cent of people reside in regional towns and centres with Shepparton/Mooroopna the largest population centre (Montecillo 2012).
Shepparton is home to a large culturally and linguistically diverse community, including newly arrived refugees from The Congo, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Other significant settlements include Seymour and Benalla (DPCD 2011).
The population is growing by about 1.23 per cent, or 2,600 people each year, which is slightly higher than average for regional Victoria, and is expected to reach around 255,500 in 2026 (Montecillo 2012).
Natural resource-based industries underpin the Catchment’s economy. Livestock, dairy, fruit, vegetable, grape and other food production and processing contribute to the $15.9 billion gross regional output (2009 figures) with a gross value of agriculture production in the Catchment in 2009–10 of $1.16 billion. Primary production and manufacturing account for about 30 per cent of the 77,000 or more jobs in the economy (Montecillo 2012).
Other industries include construction and trade, tourism, utilities, transport and communications. Nature-based and cultural heritage tourism and recreation are also important employers (Montecillo 2012).
Involvement by the community in catchment management is broad based. It is estimated that for every $1 spent by government in catchment management, at least another $1.50 (and as high as $4) is spent by the Catchment community (GB CMA 2012b). In addition to the effort undertaken by individual landholders on private land across the Catchment, a variety of networks and groups achieve catchment outcomes on public and private land. The Catchment also boasts a strong history of community leadership in responding to important catchment threats and issues, such as salinity.