Poster for Aboriginal community consultation workshops, artwork by Worimi artist Krystal Hurst

The Aboriginal Water Initiative program aims to improve Aboriginal involvement and representation in water planning and management within NSW. The program allows the NSW Office of Water to monitor 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

The Aboriginal Water Initiative team aims to continue Aboriginal community consultation activities undertaken by the NSW Office of Water in since 2011.

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.

Water Yarning newsletter

Aboriginal community consultation

The NSW Office of Water has conducted a series of workshops for Aboriginal community members since April 2011.

More workshops are planned from 2014 onwards in Northern and Southern NSW areas as a part of AWI program.

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.

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

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training

The Aboriginal Water Initiative is providing Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training (ACAT) program to all NSW Office of Water staff. ACAT aims to equip staff with the necessary knowledge, education and understanding of Aboriginal people, culture, history and water management knowledge and experiences. We also raise the profile of the Aboriginal Water Initiative, enhance cultural inclusiveness in work practices, increase responsiveness to Aboriginal people, communities and issues and hopefully become proud of the oldest living culture on the planet.

ACAT works on the premise that in order to effectively communicate and engage with Aboriginal people it is vitally important to understand how the past affects the present.

Information manual for Aboriginal communities

Download the information manual for Aboriginal communities, Our Water, Our Country (PDF 7 MB) and view clips from the Our Water, Our Country DVD.