The Aboriginal Water Program was established to deliver on Water for Victoria's commitments to Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians. This includes progressing actions on recognising and managing for Aboriginal values, Aboriginal inclusion in the water sector, and Aboriginal economic development.

Phase 1 of the Aboriginal Water Program

Phase 1 delivered on its commitments through 2 key initiatives.

Aboriginal values and uses

The Aboriginal Values and Uses for Water Program invested in projects led by Traditional Owners to better define and document Aboriginal values, uses, and aspirations of Victoria’s waterways and catchments.

Through this initiative, $4.7 million was directed towards cultural mapping, seasonal watering plans, water management plans, and research of cultural and environmental flows for the sustainable management of water.

Access to water for economic development

The Aboriginal Access to Water for Economic Development Program directed $5 million towards exploring and developing opportunities for Aboriginal enterprises through access to water. The program was designed with Traditional Owners and delivered alongside project partners in 3 stages.

Stage 1: Cultural water for cultural economies

Over 40 meetings were facilitated with representatives from 20 Traditional Owner groups, resulting in the delivery of the Cultural Water for Cultural Economies report.

The report identified specific law and policy pathways to increase water access for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.

Stage 2: Traditional Owner-led pilot projects

Eleven pilot projects were funded which explored water-related enterprises for economic development opportunities.

These projects tested the feasibility of aquaculture, bush foods, native plants, water-based education, and cultural tourism across Victoria.

Stage 3: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap

Based on and informed by the learnings and outcomes of stages 1 and 2, this stage delivered on Water for Victoria's policy commitments by facilitating the development of a Traditional Owner-led Aboriginal water policy. This developed into what is now known as Water is Life: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap.

You can read about some of the Aboriginal Water Program Phase 1 projects and outcomes along with other case studies below.

Page last updated: 08/09/23