Barapa Barapa delivered a series of Aboriginal Waterways Assessments in November 2016. During this process 12 Traditional Owners undertook 12 assessments around Gunbower Forest, Hird Swamp, Lake Elizabeth and Lake Leaghur,

The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) and the North Central Catchment Managemebnt Authority (CMA) provided support for these assessments. Wetland ecologist, Damien Cook and Colin Pardoe, archaeologist also participated in the project as experts in their respective fields.

Dja Dja Wurrung is collaborating with the North Central Catchment Management Authority to increase the skills of Traditional Owners in natural resource management. The aims of this project are to develop pathways for young Aboriginal people to pursue careers in environmental management, to promote culture, and to improve the capacity of Dja Dja Wurrung to protect areas of significance.

Tati Tati and Wadi Wadi undertook a Aboriginal Waterways Assessment in July 2017 along the Murray River between Robinvale and Swan Hill.  Thirteen Traditional Owners visited 12 sites between Robinvale and Nyah-Vinifera Regional Park.

Traditional Owners were accompanied by staff from Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

In December 2014, a group of 10 Traditional Owners worked with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to identify important sites and assess the cultural health of areas from Wangaratta to Falls Creek. This was one of the first projects that used the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment tool.

This project will increase the ability of Dhudhuroa and Waywurru Traditional Owners to negotiate for their water needs on country.

Dhudhuroa Elder, Gary Murray talks about the importance of water for important cultural sites:

“The watering of our cultural places brings, for example, a redgum to life from a seed to a tree with animals and birds. It brings Djinabis (Dhudhuroa possum skin cloaks) to keep warm, shelter for the clans from the elements, water canoes, weapons and carrying tools, and materials for burial rituals.”

Aboriginal waterways assessment along the Ovens River. 2014. Photo by Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Wurundjeri cultural values project is a collaboration between the Wurundjeri Council, Melbourne Water and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH).

Through this project, water-dependent cultural values along the Yarra River system are to be documented together with other elements relevant to this specific waterway including additional water requirements and objectives. The focus of this project is to enhance the ability of environmental water managers to achieve Aboriginal environmental outcomes for Wurundjeri in the Yarra River system in both the short-term and longer term.

A key step forward for this project was a Wurundjeri-hosted Aboriginal water knowledge sharing day held on 25 May 2017. This event provided the opportunity for Wurundjeri elders to hear directly from other Traditional Owner nations who have actively worked on Aboriginal water projects.

This project has coincided with many activities along the Yarra and its tributaries that have come about since the Yarra River Projection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill 2017 was passed in Victorian Parliament in September 2017.

Further information on the project can be found by contacting VEWH or Melbourne Water.

Visiting eel traps on the Wurundjeri-hosted Aboriginal water knowledge-sharing day. May 2017.

Visiting eel traps on the Wurundjeri-hosted Aboriginal water knowledge-sharing day. May 2017.

The Aboriginal water unit is proud of its close association and working relationship with the Water for Country Project Control Group (PCG)

We support collaboration between water agencies and Traditional Owner groups - download the Aboriginal Participation Guidelines for CMAs  (PDF, 1.8 MB) - and we continue to invest in projects designed to improve opportunities for Aboriginal people in water planning and management:

$4 .7 million for Aboriginal values and objectives

As part of this commitment we are managing the roll-out of a range of locally focused projects.  We are also recruiting a number of Aboriginal water officers to actively support communities to increase its understanding and appreciation of water values, uses and aims over the next two to four years.

Applications for the round of funding – for local projects and Aboriginal water officer positions – are open until 7 February 2018.

Over the next 12 months we will:

  • appoint up to four Aboriginal water officers
  • evaluate local project submissions, establish governance arrangements and start projects

$5 million for an economic development roadmap

We are developing a ‘roadmap’ to afford Aboriginal people greater access to water for economic development. We continue to support projects that provide water for economic development throughout Victoria.

The State Government of Victoria is committed to identifying seed funding and business finance opportunities to support Aboriginal enterprises investing in water.

Over the next 12 months we will:

  • develop this roadmap in collaboration with Traditional Owner groups
  • evaluate project submissions, establish governance arrangements and start projects