The Aboriginal Water Unit delivers Water for Victoria chapter 6 and is a dedicated program and funding source for Traditional Owner water-related priorities, projects, research and resources to support connection and access to water for social, economic, customary, spiritual and other self-determined purposes. The Aboriginal Water Unit and the broader water sector are contributing towards achieving the following actions:

  • Action 6.1: recognise Aboriginal values and objectives of water
  • Action 6.2: include Aboriginal values and traditional ecological knowledge in water planning
  • Action 6.3: support Aboriginal access to water for economic development
  • Action 6.4: build capacity to increase Aboriginal participation in water management
  • Action 10.8: increase Aboriginal inclusion in the water sector
  • Action 10.9: support economic development through Aboriginal participation

The Aboriginal Water Program Phase One, now entitled the Water, Country, and Community Program, began in 2016. Phase One aimed to better include Aboriginal people in the way that water is managed in Victoria and to reconnect communities to water for cultural, economic, customary, and spiritual purposes. The Water, Country and Community Program is a continuation of the Victorian Government’s commitment and has been developed through the Phase One learnings.

The Water, Country and Community Program is funded through the Victorian Government’s investment of $18 million for Traditional Owner water-related priorities. Funding is available for 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.

Between 2020-24 the Water, Country, and Community Program aims to deliver a flexible and simplified funding process to support as many Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians as possible to gain more opportunities in the water sector.

EC5 Expenditure to date

Program Title (EC5)

2020-21 Expenditure $’000

Improving recognition and management of water by Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians


Summary of year 1 of EC5 progress:

  • Initiated 12 Traditional Owner-led self-determined water projects. Project durations are between 1 and 3 years and each project has various outputs and outcomes as self-determined by the project owners. All incorporate elements of the following themes:
    • access to water for economic development;
    • community consultation and gatherings;
    • country plan implementation
    • long-term water planning;
    • monitoring, mapping, and evaluating Country; and
    • capacity building
  • Continued funding to 17 Aboriginal Water Officer for a period of three years.
  • Delivered, in partnership with the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations and Traditional Owners,  the Cultural Waters for Cultural Economies report which focuses on legal barriers and opportunities to access water and the initiation of an Aboriginal access to water Roadmap, which will guide future policy direction to support Aboriginal access to water for self-determined purposes.
  • Initiated the Aboriginal Access to Water Roadmap, which will be the first Traditional Owner-led and endorsed document to provide policy recommendations for Traditional Owners to access water for social, economic, cultural, customary, and other self-determined purposes.

Page last updated: 16/09/21