Yarra Strategic Plan (Burndap Birrarung burndap umarkoo)

Melbourne Water is leading the development of the Yarra Strategic Plan (Burndap Birrarung burndap umarkoo) 2021–31, which will give effect to the community’s long-term vision for the Yarra and support collaborative management of the river and its lands.

Delivering the plan is a Victorian Government commitment to protect our treasured Yarra River, Birrarung, and its parklands for future generations.

The bi-lingual title ‘Burndap Birrarung burndap umarkoo’, which means ‘good for the Yarra is good for all’ in the Woi-wurrung language, reflects the strong partnership with Traditional Owners in the plan’s development and implementation.

The plan will be available for download after it is approved by the Minister for Water in early 2022.

Developing the plan

The Yarra River Protection (Willip-gin Birrarung Murron) Act 2017 calls for the development of the Yarra Strategic Plan, and identifies the Yarra River and the public land it flows through as one living and integrated natural entity for protection.

Development of the plan was informed by community feedback, background studies, and complementary strategies and policies already in operation for the Yarra River.

An initial step was formation of the Yarra Collaboration Committee, which includes representatives from the eight local councils and seven state government agencies with management responsibilities for the river, and representatives of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people. 

Imagine the Yarra: Yarra Strategic Plan - Wilip-gin Birrarung murron
An engagement strategy was designed and implemented under the banner of ‘Imagine the Yarra’.

Melbourne Water, in collaboration with the committee, designed and implemented a detailed four-phase engagement strategy under the banner of ‘Imagine the Yarra’.

Yarra Strategic Plan phase one community engagement, Abbotsford Convent, October 2017
Community engagement, Abbotsford Convent, October 2017.

During phase 1, the Yarra River Community Assembly was formed to write the vision for the Yarra. The assembly, made up of 24 people drawn from communities along the river, took the findings from the broad community engagement and drafted the vision that sits at the heart of the plan.

The draft plan was released for comment in January 2020. Feedback was gathered using a range of methods, including face-to-face meetings, pop-up events, focus groups and online engagement reaching more than 120,000 community members. Over 300 conversations, together with discussions from focus groups, online survey responses, and 138 written submissions were received. 

The Act required a panel process for independent consideration of submissions relating to the draft plan’s land use framework. The Panel, which was appointed by the Minister for Water, heard submissions in May and June 2020. Their report was provided to the Minister in July 2020.

The Panel report is available on the Engage Victoria website.

Finalising the Yarra Strategic Plan

The Yarra Strategic Plan was finalised based on feedback received through consultation and the recommendations from the independent panel appointed by the Minister for Water.

The plan was updated to reflect the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council’s decision in June 2021 to vary registered Aboriginal party boundaries for Traditional Owners. The actions and land use directions in the plan respect and support both the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong Traditional Owners to co-manage the river and lands on their Country respectively.

The plan has been endorsed by the eight local councils, seven state government agencies and six committees of management, who collectively have committed to implementing the plan in partnership with the Traditional Owners on their Country. The plan has subsequently been provided to the government for approval prior to implementation.

Additional information on development of the plan and protection of the Yarra River (Birrarung) is available on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) website.

Further reading

Community engagement

Research and studies

Last updated:
16 December 2021