29 August 2022
Lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia have today lodged a complaint at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to stop a brumby preservation group from racially vilifying Monica Morgan, a senior member of the Yorta Yorta Nation.
The Barmah National Park is on the traditional Country of the Yorta Yorta Nation. It is a place of environmental and cultural significance, covering thousands of hectares of floodplain forests and wetlands along the southern bank of the Dhungalla (the Murray River).
The floodplain marshes in the Barmah National Park are in a state of decline, with native wetland grasses at risk of extinction due to grazing and trampling pressure from introduced species, particularly feral horses.
Victorian Government policy seeks to protect and restore the native wetland grasses by removing the feral horses. Parks Victoria is responsible for removing the feral horses, while the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owner Land Management Board, through the Joint Management Plan for Barmah National Park, are supportive of the policy.
Rather than engage with the substance of the policy, which is backed by science and being implemented by a government agency, some elements of the brumby preservation group have instead chosen to engage in a campaign of personal attacks and intimidation on Traditional Owners.
Lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia say this conduct amounts to racial vilification, which is unlawful and needs to stop immediately. Our client also seeks an apology.
Lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia note that racial vilification is a form of violence. It is damaging not only to the individuals or groups vilified, but also to the cohesion and harmony of a culturally diverse society.