Conference paper

Hidden landscapes: Aboriginal landscapes in contemporary planning and design activities in Melbourne

Urban planning Settler colonialism Aboriginal heritage Melbourne
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Throughout the colonial settlement of Australia, Aboriginal people were subject to processes of colonial dispossession that have had a profound effect on their communities, language and culture, and in many places their over-arching tangible and intangible Country. These processes included conscious and unconscious attempts to erase them from their Country directly through the fictional legal doctrine of terra nullius; through physical and biological genocide; culturally through policies of social and religious assimilation that arguably continue; and symbolically through the misrepresentation of their identities as the ‘primitive other’ through an essentialised notion of Aboriginality. This process of erasure was, and continues to be evident in Australia’s metropolitan areas where Aboriginal tangible and intangible Country are subject to appropriation, misappropriation, erasure, and subsumption of place and meaning in a sea of urbanisation and peri-urban expansion. In this context, this paper considers recent renovations to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 which in part redress this erasure, as well as the ambit of the Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan (2016), focusing upon the metropolitan Melbourne Country of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung, ventures in nomenclature appropriation, and recent acts of planning and design, to offer avenues to better accommodate their tangible heritage and living narratives.

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