Skip navigation

Citizens Declare Protection of Whale Songline Country

At an event on World Environment Day, in honour of the return of the Koontapool - Southern Right Whales - to their birthing grounds along the coastlines, and in response to the threats Koontapool continue to face from gas exploration and extraction, Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective have launched a Citizens’ Protection Declaration, and invite all citizens to unite in protection of the Koontapool Songline and Gunditjmara Sea Country by signing on to the declaration.

Gunditjmara women Aunty Vicki Couzens and Yaraan Bundle present the Citizens' Protection Declaration

In a world first, Gunditjmara Whale Dreaming Custodians and Local Gunditj community of the Warrnambool area invited the general community to share in the story of Koontapool, the Southern Right Whale, in celebration of their annual return to Gunditjmara Sea Country.

This invitation to stand united in protection, and to listen and learn from the deep and sacred knowledge held by the Whale Dreaming Custodians has touched all our hearts. Many reports from those who attended the event on Sunday have echoed this sentiment and the sense that our collective understanding has grown in ways beyond our anticipation.

Jemila Rushton from Friends of the Earth introduces the day while Uncle Rob Bundle waits to speak

For Gunditjmara community and holders of the Whale Dreaming it was a day to stand proud and strong in sharing the deep truth of wisdom and culture held for time immemorial, including how to protect and care for Sea Country through the holding of the Whale Songline.

Yaraan Bundle leads Gunditjmara women in ceremony

Gunditjmara men performing ceremony

Gunditjmara men practising ceremony

Gunditjmara women and men gather around the sacred ceremonial fire

Yaraan speaking, Vicky, Rob and Brett standing by

For those of us who are not First Nations it was a deeply moving and profound opportunity to bear witness to ceremony, story, and song, and to absorb into our beings a growing understanding of Koorondee - behaving properly, the knowing of the way to be here in harmony with the land, Country, the ocean, Sea Country, and all the life, all the beings so deeply interconnected with this place. 

Koontapool banner with language words

For us all it is a time of standing together in protection, declaring as citizens that we:

  • grant immediate protection to Koontapool/Southern Right Whale,
  • declare the area a critical habitat for the Southern Right Whale,
  • support First Nations people who hold the solutions for caring for Country,
  • refuse any further fossil fuel projects on their land and in their waters, and
  • engage in negotiations for protection and sanctuary status to be granted to the entire South West iconic coastline and coastal waters, a large part of which make up Gunditjmara Sea Country.

On the day, Gunditjmara women Aunty Vicki Couzens and Yaraan Bundle introduced Citizens’ Protection Declaration and invited all in attendance to sign on to the declaration and share it widely, and this invitation is passed on here to you. 

You are invited to stand with us all in protection of the Koontapool Whale Songline, and Gunditjmara Sea Country.

You can sign on to the Citizens' Protection Declaration at

Signing on to the Declaration will also mean you will receive future updates and notifications of events. 

You can also follow Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective on Facebook and you can watch the livestream of the World Environment Day event here.

Read more:


Continue Reading

Read More