The changing face of river management in Victoria: the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 (Vic)

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This article outlines the Yarra River Protection Act and the establishment of a statutory independent voice for the Yarra River, the Birrarung Council, in light of the historical legislative neglect of indigenous water management rights in the Australian state of Victoria. It then seeks to clarify the distinction between the Yarra River’s independent voice and the granting of legal personhood to the Whanganui River in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Te Awa Tupua Act. It concludes that the grant of legal personhood to a river, represented by a river guardian, will not necessarily meet the river management aspirations of Victoria’s Indigenous people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-785
Number of pages17
JournalWater International
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Indigenous water rights
  • legal personhood
  • river management
  • Whanganui River
  • Yarra River

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