Speeches small business Environment | October 31, 2019

Grampians Rock Climbing

Victorian Parliament - 31 October, 2019 Ms KEALY (Lowan) (17:36:55): (1396) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the other place, and the action I seek is that the minster provide a detailed explanation of how the government determined which Gariwerd traditional owners to consult and which to overlook when considering the ban of licensed tour operator Tori Dunn from working in Summerday Valley, considering that on 7 February 2019 the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council declined all registered Aboriginal party (RAP) applications within the Gariwerd region. In a clear case of the punishment not fitting the crime, Tori has been told by a government department that she has been banned from working in Summerday Valley effective immediately, but has not been provided with any information regarding the complaint allegations, not given a right of reply, nor told what policies, procedures, laws or licence requirements she has breached. Employees of her business are still permitted to work in Summerday Valley, a decision which in itself is deeply upsetting to Tori. For example, Tori has not been provided with any detail of what actions have caused offence, aside from a broad reference to 'traditional owners being offended by a comment Tori made on Facebook’. The government department has refused to provide specific details as to what Tori has said to receive such a harsh punishment as a ban from Gariwerd, which will cripple her long-established rock-climbing business and is putting enormous public pressure on her as a prominent climber in the region. In the absence of specific detail of the comment that caused such deep offence that she should be banned from entering Summerday Valley, from Tori’s own review of her recent Facebook comments it appears her greatest fault was to express her own close connection to Gariwerd country. Tori grew up in the region and has climbed and adventured in Geriwerd her entire life. Tori is passionate about her relationship with and respect for the spectacular mountain faces in the region and breathtaking natural environment. She has also expressed keen interest to share her personal connection to the region with Aboriginal representative groups vying for RAP status in the region. Racial vilification and discrimination is completely unacceptable, and due process and penalties should be applied to all that are guilty of vile hate speech. However, the comments from Tori on Facebook that I have read are respectful of local Aboriginal heritage and their cultural links to the region, even though many comments are strongly supportive of the continuity of rock climbing in Summerday Valley and the wider Gariwerd region. Tori has a right to free speech and to express her own views as someone who has her own connection to the land as a long-time rock climber in the region who has assisted in the construction of trail networks to support public access to Summerday Valley and who assisted in the rehabilitation of the region after bushfires. Tori is obviously devastated. Over the past year Tori has made significant personal efforts to reach out to local elders. She has promoted cultural awareness training in the local area for licensed tour operators. She has support from traditional elders in the region who share Tori’s vision that rock climbing and cultural protection, respect and education can occur simultaneously in Gariwerd with great benefit to local Aboriginal people. It appears not all elders were consulted as part of the Government decision to ban Tori from Summerday Valley. I therefore ask the minister to provide a detailed explanation as to how the government department determined which traditional owners to consult with and which to ignore in the banning of Tori Dunn from operating in Summerday Valley given there is no RAP in Gariwerd, and to consider reversing this decision.

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