Study shows Australians support water allocations for First Nations

MLDRIN has called on all governments to heed world-first research, which demonstrates strong support for reallocation of water to First Nations.

The research conducted by Griffith University and released this week indicates that 70% of Murray Darling Basin residents surveyed would back the reallocation of water to Aboriginal communities.

The study also found that around one-fifth of respondents were willing to pay to improve the equity of water distributions, while almost a third wanted to see governments to buy water for Indigenous communities. The research can be viewed online here:

Research welcomed

“We welcome this ground breaking research and call on all Basin governments to progress real reconciliation by recognising First Nations’ water rights,” said MLDRIN Chair and Nari Nari man Rene Woods.

“Tens of billions of tax-payers dollars have been spent trying to rescue the Murray Darling Basin. Scandals, rorts and extravagant schemes, designed to protect big corporate interests, have become almost daily news. Yet barely a trickle has flowed to our First Nations communities who have borne the brunt of declining river health,” Rene Woods said.

First Nations are water guardians

“First Nations across the Basin have watched our culture erode as rivers run dry through mismanagement, over-allocation and drought. We hold the knowledge and the water values that are key to replenishing the health of our inland river systems. We need water justice, to restore ownership and agency over this precious resource to the original custodians,” Rene Woods said.

“This research proves that Australians will support leadership to address the historic injustice and inequity at the heart of our troubled water market system. It’s time for governments to empower First Nations to fulfil our role as water guardians for this Country,” Rene Woods said.

World-First research

The study ‘Public attitudes to inequality in water distribution: Insights from preferences for water reallocation from irrigators to Aboriginal Australians’ has been published in Water Resources Research.

The study of public attitudes towards water reallocation, was led by Professor Sue Jackson from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute. Prof Jackson, who has previously published research on indigenous water rights, worked with economists from the University of Tasmania and University of East Anglia in the UK.

Read the new research online for free. Visit:

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