Aboriginal involvement in waterway management grows trust and healing

29 May 2017

With a first glance at the photos below, you could be forgiven for thinking they are from ‘just another workshop’. But that is far from the reality. Actually, they are from an inspirational gathering of people furthering Aboriginal involvement in the planning and management of waterways and water flows in Victoria; a story of growing trust and healing.

The Victorian Government, including Minister for Water Lisa Neville MP, has made a very strong commitment to better understanding Aboriginal values of water and including Aboriginal people in decision-making, and have made it a central component of the new Water for Victoria plan. The Australian Government’s National Landcare Programmehas a similar commitment to Aboriginal participation.

To bring these commitments to life, various projects have commenced in the last few years such as the ‘Towards cultural flows’ project for the Glenelg River and the ‘Water for Country project for the Wimmera River by the Gunditj Mirring, Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Glenelg Hopkins CMA and Wimmera CMA. The workshop participants heard how these projects are taking Aboriginal elders onto country, generating memories and stories that have not been shared for many decades, and helping this knowledge to be passed on to young generations of Aboriginal people and many others in our communities. But the projects are doing more than just sharing knowledge and helping rivers. As one participant at the workshop said, they are “healing” people and creating new trust and bonds for us all to move forward together.

This great gathering was hosted by the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc.and brought together many other groups including Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Wamba Wamba Barapa Barapa Wadi Wadi Peoples, North Central CMA, Melbourne Water, DELWP PortPhillip and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder. Thanks and well done to everyone involved, and keep up the great work.

Our CEO David Buntine and Regional Indigenous Facilitator Rhys Collins were pleased to be part of the gathering to learn about the Indigenous water projects and experience the enthusiasm and collaboration that is growing. We’re also excited that similar projects and partnerships are developing across Victoria for Indigenous fire practices involving Parks Victoria, CFA (Country Fire Authority), Wadawurrung, Wurundjeri and others. These are fantastic steps forward in Aboriginal cultural knowledge, understanding, employment and empowerment, and we’re proud to be a part of them.