The Aboriginal Water Initiative was established in June 2012 to improve Aboriginal involvement and representation in water planning and management within NSW. This initiative has been given funding of $1.69 million per annum for up to four years commencing 2011 under the Australian Government's Closing the Gap strategy.
The program will allow the NSW Office of Water to commence monitoring the success of water sharing plans in meeting their statutory requirements for Aboriginal specific performance indicators including:
- providing water for Native Title rights
- recognising spiritual, social, customary and economic values of water to Aboriginal people
Aboriginal Water Initiative team
An Aboriginal Water Initiative team consisting of an Aboriginal Program Manager, two Aboriginal Regional Coordinators and a Senior Project Officer were appointed in June 2012 with a further four Aboriginal Community Water Facilitators appointed in March 2013. The team aims to continue Aboriginal community consultation activities undertaken by the NSW Office of Water in 2011 and early 2012.
Main objectives of the Aboriginal Water Initiative
The main objective of the Initiative is to ensure there is ongoing effective state-wide and regional engagement with Aboriginal communities in water sharing plans and that measurable Aboriginal water outcomes for both environmental and commercial use are achieved and reported upon. Key deliverables under the Initiative include:
- Improving engagement of regional Aboriginal communities in water management — initially focusing on water sharing plans under development or up for review, and on water related commercial opportunities for Aboriginal people who hold water licences or own rural land
- Developing the skills and capability of Aboriginal water facilitators and coordinators
- Developing skills and capability of the NSW Office of Water staff to improve service delivery to Aboriginal communities
- Consolidating business between the NSW Government and Aboriginal communities to help provide a single, consistent point of engagement for water sharing issues
- Identifying key water-related environmental, social, cultural and economic opportunities and priorities for Aboriginal communities
- Reporting on the commercial, cultural and environmental outcomes for Aboriginal people from water sharing planning
- Achieving relevant State Plan and national partnership targets including Indigenous employment, capacity development, and training.
Aboriginal communities will provide the knowledge required by the Water Management Act 2000 to monitor and review water sharing plans for:
- Aboriginal water access licences for cultural purposes
- Water for economic development of Aboriginal communities
- Flow rules to protect Aboriginal cultural values dependent on water.
For an overview see the Aboriginal Water Initiative brochure (PDF 8.94 MB) that lists the key objectives and deliverables of the AWI program.
For more information on the program please contact us.
Launch of Aboriginal Water Initiative Program
David Harriss, Commissioner NSW Office of Water officially launched the Aboriginal Water Initiative Program on Monday 12 November 2012 at Warragamba Dam. Aboriginal Elders travelled from various parts of NSW to celebrate the launch.
Mr Harriss was greeted on his arrival at Warragamba Dam in NSW with a traditional smoking ceremony, before launching the Program.
The Commissioner, community elders and other agency executives were given traditional and cultural welcomes before performances by Aboriginal children.
Media release 28 November 2012 Aboriginal Water Initiative Program launched (PDF 149 KB).
A limited number of launch DVDs are available. If you would like a copy sent to you please contact us.
Water Yarning newsletter
Aboriginal community consultation
Consultations in 2011 to 2012
The NSW Office of Water conducted a series of workshops for Aboriginal community members between April 2011 and November 2011 as part of Aboriginal Community Engagement and Consultation in Water Sharing Planning in NSW, a project funded by the National Water Commission.
More workshops were conducted from August 2012 in Northern and Southern NSW areas as a part of AWI program to follow on from the community engagement and consultation on water sharing plans in 2011.
Participating in these Aboriginal community consultation workshops gave people an opportunity to influence water sharing plans by providing information that could protect water-dependent cultural assets. Licences relevant to Aboriginal people were also discussed.
Consultations in 2013
Further Aboriginal community consultation workshops are being undertaken in coastal NSW during 2013.
The team will also undertake work to follow up with communities across NSW who have already been consulted. For more information contact Lillian Moseley at Lillian.Moseley@water.nsw.gov.au or Gavin Callaghan at Gavin.Callaghan@water.nsw.gov.au. The workshops will be held at venues throughout northern and southern NSW in early 2013.
Information manual for Aboriginal communities
An information manual for Aboriginal communities, Our Water Our Country (PDF 7 MB), under development since mid 2009, was used as the basis of this community consultation about the water reform process and was launched on 27 March 2012.
The manual aims to provide information that will increase Aboriginal peoples' understanding and encourages involvement in the water sharing process. It is intended to help build Aboriginal peoples' capacity to participate as water users, protect their rights to water, maintain a healthy environment, and take full advantage of economic opportunities.
The manual was part of a $250K project jointly funded by the Australian Government and NSW Government through the intergovernmental natural resource management Joint Steering Committee responsible for the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water and the Natural Heritage Trust. The original draft was managed through the Country, Culture and Heritage Division in the Office of Environment and Heritage.
The manual and DVD continue to form the basis for ongoing consultation by the Aboriginal Water Initiative team established in 2012 in the NSW Office of Water.
A limited number of hard copies of the information manual and DVD are available. If you would like a copy sent to you please contact us.
Media release 27 March 2012 Launch of Our Water Our Country information kit (PDF 197 KB).