The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) have welcomed a new Water Plan launched by the Victorian Government today as an exciting and historic step towards justice and wellbeing for Aboriginal people.
The Plan establishes a pathway towards genuine recognition of Victorian Traditional Owners’ rights to manage and own water resources.
Nearly $5 million has been committed towards establishing an Aboriginal Water Unit for Victoria, including local projects and regional Aboriginal Water Officers. This investment will ensure that Victoria can meet commitments in the Murray Darling Basin Plan and State policies and legislation. The plan also goes a step further by committing to:
- Appoint a fourth, Aboriginal commissioner to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder
- Invest $5 million to develop a roadmap for access to water for economic development, in partnership with Traditional Owners.
- Work with Traditional Owners and the water sector to increase Aboriginal appointments on the Boards of Water Corporations and CMAs.
Water key to wellbeing
‘Water underpins the health of Country and the wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Traditional Owners people have rights and aspirations to participate in water management and the water economy,’ said MLDRIN Acting Chair Rene Woods.
‘Victorian Aboriginal people have sustainably used and managed water resources over many thousands of years. Yet, Traditional Owners have been locked out of the water market. Traditional Owners’ views and knowledge have been disregarded in decisions about water management,’ Rene Woods said.
‘MLDRIN applauds the Victorian Government and all stakeholders involved in developing this innovative Water Plan. The reforms announced today establish a new benchmark in the recognition of Aboriginal water rights in South Eastern Australia,’ Rene Woods said.
‘We look forward to working with the Victorian Government and all stakeholders to ensure all components of the Plan are properly implemented. This Plan is an important first step in a long journey to restore Aboriginal people’s rights to manage and use the water resources on their Country,’ Rene Woods said.