Time to transform the Yarra
The Yarra River – Birrarung – is the lifeblood of Victoria.    

Flowing 242 kilometres from the Yarra Ranges all the way through greater Melbourne and into Port Phillip Bay – Birrarung is a vital source of nourishment for so many Victorians.  

Large sections of the Yarra flow through forests and mountains, supplying vital water to Victorians for more than 100 years. But much of the Yarra flows through landscapes cleared and developed during Melbourne’s urbanisation.   

The Yarra remains under threat from development, pollution, poor stormwater management and loss of vegetation.  

It was reported earlier this year that the Yarra is choking on polystyrene – a plastic deadly to our wildlife found at 80 per cent of sites in the Yarra River catchment. And, the 2018 State of the Yarra Report showed a rapid trajectory of decline.  

Public submissions to the draft Yarra Strategic Plan were open earlier this year. Any individual or organisation who made a submission to Part 2: Land Use Framework, and which the Lead Agency has not fully adopted, now have the opportunity to be heard at the Panel Public Hearings.  

Public hearings commenced this week and on behalf of Environmental Justice Australia and our client Yarra Riverkeeper Association, EJA senior lawyer Bruce Lindsay will be attending hearings to make the case for a transformative plan setting the agenda for river protection over the next decade. This hearing gives the community their best chance to scrutinise and have their say on the planning and protections for the entire Yarra corridor.    

“If done well, the Yarra Strategic Plan could transform how we manage this vital urban waterway and set the path for a new model and vision for urban rivers over the next fifty years” – Bruce Lindsay, senior lawyer.   

The Yarra Strategic Plan is a central pillar of the world-leading Yarra Act scheme, passed in 2017. This inquiry will inform the final version of the Yarra Strategic Plan and Land Use Framework and will govern the direction of the Yarra River corridor over the next 10 years.  

In getting a robust and effective Framework and Strategic Plan, we can set a resonating agenda for urban river protection and restoration on the national and global stage.   

This is a rare and historic opportunity to change the trajectory of the Yarra for years to come. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the outcomes of these hearings. 

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