Tati Tati Wadi Wadi delivers their Cultural Flows Management Plan

In 2021, Tati Tati Wadi Wadi delivered their Cultural Flows Management Plan, which defines their aspirations for Margooya Lagoon outside Robinvale. The plan was funded as part of the Aboriginal Access to Water for Economic Development Initiative. The process to develop the plan began in 2018, with Tati Tati Wadi Wadi members participating in workshops to determine nation objectives around Cultural Flows and the health of waterways and Country. A total of 16 main objectives were outlined across water, animals, plants, and people – all of which are considered interconnected and central to cultural understandings of Country.

During November 2020, a 15ML allocation of environmental water was committed and delivered by Victorian authorities to a floodplain creek at the Murray River side of the Margooya Lagoon wetland. This “Test Flow” was a way to simulate the original inundation of the creek and help revive the biodiversity of the surrounding area. Monitoring and evaluation surveys created by the Tati Tati Aboriginal Water Officers were used over the course of five weeks to survey and record the outcomes of the watering event on various key indicators. Increases were demonstrated during the flow event in the overall health of culturally significant plants and overall abundance of culturally significant animals. However, while the cultural wellbeing of people slightly increased during the one-week flow event as water was flowing into the dry creek bed, an overall decrease was observed once the flow event ended. Tati Tati Wadi Wadi reports that improvement in engagement between relevant stakeholders could lead to more positive, lasting outcomes for future watering events. To respect their rights and responsibilities to care for Country, Traditional Owners should be involved in all stages of the environmental watering process: before, during and after water is delivered.

Cultural Flows is a lifelong concept. As such, the Cultural Flows Management Plan for Margooya Lagoon is an ongoing and live document that will grow and adapt as the people and Country that it concerns grow and change. Tati Tati Wadi Wadi members recommend that there be further Test Flow events to gain additional knowledge and understandings of natural creek inundation paths of Margooya Lagoon. Relevant stakeholders should ensure that genuine engagement occurs, with Traditional Owners involved in all stages of the environmental and cultural watering processes and Traditional Ecological Knowledge embedded in the water space. The nation will also aim to continue developing the capacity for Traditional Owner employment, self-determination and autonomy in holding water workshops and educational projects.

A group of people at the base of a tree in a dried creek or riverbed

Image: Tati Tati Wadi Wadi members at the bottom of a dry waterhole, Margooya Lagoon. Credit: Melissa Kennedy

Three people sitting on a fallen tree limb as seen from above

Image: Tati Tati Wadi Wadi Elders resting on a fallen tree, Margooya Lagoon. Credit: Melissa Kennedy

People standing on either side of a creek bed removing leaves Image: Tati Tati Wadi Wadi participants clearing leaf debris as water moves down creek bed during the Test Flow event. Credit: Melissa Kennedy

Page last updated: 01/12/21