Victoria is collaborating with Traditional Owners to ensure Aboriginal water interests are included in water planning, management, access, and ownership decisions.

The support and partnership of Aboriginal people is essential to the delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Victoria and is a key consideration within the state’s strategic plan for the management of our water resources, Water for Victoria .

Traditional Owners have long advocated for their knowledge, interests, and on-going connection to water to be recognised in Victorian water legislation and policies, and this was achieved through the Victorian Water and Catchment Amendment Act 2019. It is now legislated that Victorian water agencies, including the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, must consider Traditional Owners’ values, uses and aspirations in water planning and management processes.  This commitment is further enforced through the release of Pupangarli Marnmarnepu - Owning Our Future: DELWP's Aboriginal self-determination strategy, focused on four reform areas: People, Systems, Country (which includes water interests) and Accountability.

Traditional Owners are playing a significant role in the development of many state water planning, management and policy processes, such as:

  • Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy which will consider how water is shared and the opportunity for Traditional Owners to have a voice in the decision-making process and access to water.
  • Urban waterway strategies which support the inclusion of Traditional Owners in planning and management decisions.
  • Regional Catchment Strategies which include Traditional Owners in planning and management decisions, to ensure the holistic management of resources and Country.
  • Victorian Waterway Management Strategy Refresh which includes Traditional Owners in planning and management decisions, aiming to better incorporate Aboriginal water interests in environmental watering and waterway health.
  • Aboriginal Access to Water Roadmap which will will bring Traditional Owners together with DELWP to design and endorse policy recommendations for Traditional Owners to access water for social, economic, cultural, customary, and other self-determined purposes.
  • Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism projects. We value and respect the commitment of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians to care for and access Country and we are committed to improving Traditional Owner and Aboriginal participation and partnership in environmental projects under the Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM), both during project delivery and in its long-term operations. For more information: The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM): Murray-Darling Basin Plan (
  • Environmental Watering (see Environmental benefits of the Basin Plan and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP’s) Environmental Water website.
  • Aboriginal Water Unit programs. The Aboriginal Water Unit is leading the Victorian Government’s further $18 million investment for Traditional Owner self-determined water-related priorities, including Aboriginal Water Officers, the Aboriginal Water Officer Network, and projects, research, and resources to start and/or continue to better understand, document and progress Aboriginal access and management requirements to water, for self-determined purposes.

Uncle Ron Galway doing a Welcome to Country, Barapa Barapa Water for Country project, Treetops Scout Camp,

Page last updated: 26/10/22