Rodney Carter is a descendant of the Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta people and resides on Dja Dja Wurrung country in Bendigo, Central Victoria. He currently works for his people, the Dja Dja Wurrung, as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Wurrung Group. The Dja Dja Wurrung group comprises the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, trading as DJAARA, and the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd.
The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, trading as DJAARA, received the official title to a parcel of land planned for their Corporate and Community Centre in Bendigo, Victoria. On Friday, 18 February, an official handover ceremony took place to return the land title to the Dja Dja Wurrung People by the Andrews Labor Government.
Dja Dja Wurrung Elders and community members celebrated the occasion with dance and song as Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes handed the title to DJAARA Chair Trent Nelson.
The Centre is a long-standing Dja Dja Wurrung aspiration. The creation of the 'Cultural hub' was a recommendation made as part of Professor Mick Dodson's review of the Dja Dja Wurrung's 2013 Recognition and Settlement Agreement. In November 2020, the Labor Government announced funding of almost $11.3 million to assist the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to build the Centre.
The anticipated Dja Dja Wurrung Corporate and Community Centre will be a permanent base of the Dja Dja Wurrung Group's operational activities. It aims to be a place of learning and interaction and honour the survival, growth, and culture of Dja Dja Wurrung People.
Rodney Carter Dja Dja Wurrung Group, CEO, said: "Homes can take so many forms, the Dja Dja Wurrung are contributing positively to healing Country and its People. This Centre will be a place for us to work together to create a future for Central Victorians that would make all of our Dja Dja Wurrung Ancestors proud.
The Government supports self-determination and land justice for Traditional Owners in Victoria and is currently in negotiations with the Dja Dja Wurrung on a revised Recognition and Settlement Agreement.
"It's an honour and the right thing to do to return this land to the Traditional Owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, recognising their tireless fight for land justice," said Attorney General Jaclyn Symes
"We are working with Traditional Owners across the state to support self-determination and create a strong future for their communities."
The return of this parcel of land enables Dja Dja Wurrung to have a permanent and centralised location for land management operations and sustainable building models regarding Djandak (Country).
The Centre will also create a destination for arts and cultural events and provide multi-purpose uses for other businesses and the wider public. The site's development will be divided into several stages before completion in early 2023.
A defining moment in Rodney's career has been negotiating the Dja Dja Wurrung people's Native Title settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Dja Dja Wurrung People signed their Recognition and Settlement Agreement in 2013. They are the Traditional Owners of Djandak (Country) of Central Victoria.
Rodney strongly believes that Dja Dja Wurrung People can confidently manage their own history, places and materials for the benefit of all Victorians. "We manage our Culture and our Heritage, not just for the benefit of our own mob but for all People that come to our Country."