About the Gippsland Lakes
The Gippsland Lakes are a network of coastal lagoons and marsh environments, the largest estuarine lagoon system in Australia. They consist of three large coastal lagoons (Lake Wellington, Lake Victoria and Lake King) and fringing wetlands which are ecosystems that are home to unique wildlife. The Gunaikurnai people (the Brataualung, Brayakaulung, Brabralung, Krauatungalung and Tatungalung) are the First People of this area and have cared for the land and waters around the Gippsland Lakes area for tens of thousands of years.
Threats and challenges
There are a number of serious threats and challenges to the health of the Gippsland Lakes, many of which are due to a flawed legal and governance system. Key environmental threats include salinity and its causes, including reduced freshwater inflows and the dredging of a permanent entrance to the Lakes. The impacts of logging, burning and mining and mine rehabilitation are additional pressures.
In addition there are broader governance and legal issues including not enough involvement of First Nations in governance and management, a fragmentation of legal and bureaucratic processes and a lack of transparency and accountability.
The Gippsland Lakes need new laws that reduce fragmentation, are enforceable and ensure compliance, and support community-led governance of the Gippsland Lakes. Responding to environmental challenges requires responding to the experiences of colonisation and to the Gunaikurnai agenda for self-determination and justice in relation to Country.