Don’t bulldoze Aboriginal heritage: Save the Butterfly Cave

Don’t bulldoze Aboriginal heritage: Save the Butterfly Cave

8 October 2015
Petition to
Tanya Plibersek (Federal Environment Minister) and 3 others
Signatures: 179,841Next goal: 200,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Annie Freer

For more than eleven long years, Aboriginal women and their allies have been fighting property giant Roche Group to prevent the destruction of their sacred women’s sanctuary, the Butterfly Cave.

In our final, last-ditch attempt to save the cultural bushland, we are calling on the NSW government and the Federal Government to buy the land from the developer and secure the Butterfly Cave and Journey Path.

In the lead-up to the state elections, we call on candidates to commit to helping us protect our sacred space from the threat of desecration.

The current state and federal government declarations meant to protect the Butterfly Cave do not protect the structural integrity of the Cave, do not include critical water sources that are necessary for of the Cave, nor do they include the sacred Journey Path.

According to the current “protections,” Roche suffers no losses. Successive state and federal governments have failed to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage. They all have kept the interests of the big corporate over Aboriginal women.

Right now, Aboriginal women who want to connect with culture or spend time at the Cave to heal, have to ask for permission from white men gate-keeping our cultural safe space. We feel violated every time we have to do that or we risk being fined for accessing our own cultural heritage. There’s no consideration for cultural need or urgency - for example, if a woman has experienced a traumatic event and needs to connect with culture. We're forced to send an email asking permission from Roche Group. It’s absolutely inappropriate.

We are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Every day, we experience anxiety, grief, and frustration. Every day, we are terrified that today will be the day the bulldozers will move in and destroy everything. This is a terrible way to live. We’ve done everything - endless meetings, submissions, media, filling in forms, and explaining repeatedly why the site is important over and over again. We want final protections now - state ownership of the land and guarantees for women to freely access the site.

Every year in March, the Roche Group organises the Red Hot Summer Tour featuring iconic Aussie artists. This year, artists like Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly, Bernard Fanning, Mark Seymour, Vika & Linda, and Ian Moss & Troy Cassar-Daley will be performing. Many of these performers are active on social media saying they support Aboriginal issues. We are calling on them to support our fight for access to culture - please cancel your performances and stand against Roche’s bullying. Stand up for the Butterfly Cave and Aboriginal cultural rights!


In 2019, the Federal government recognised the deep cultural significance of the Butterfly Cave for Awabakal women. A Declaration was made under ATSIHP Act to preserve and protect the site. Now, the Roche Group is again planning housing development in place of our precious Cave. Please sign the petition to stop big corporates from breaching the Declaration.

For ten long years, we have been fighting the giant property developer to prevent them from destroying our sanctuary. We thought that securing a Federal Declaration would be enough to keep greedy developers off our cultural sites, but it is simply a minor blockage for them.

The Butterfly Cave is incredibly important to Awabakal women and the wider Aboriginal community. It is a source of spiritual and physical sustenance for us. The new housing development will breach the Declaration in a number of ways. We are furious and heartbroken. It feels like all our efforts were for nothing.

The Federal Minister for Environment is the ONLY person who has the authority to enforce the ATSIHP Declaration. Please sign the petition and ask Minister Plibersek to enforce the Declaration NOW.

For more information please visit:


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Signatures: 179,841Next goal: 200,000
Support now

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