The Aboriginal Waterway Assessment (or AWA) is a Traditional Owner-led tool that assesses the Cultural and Environmental health of Country in an effective and culturally safe way, while also helping to outline a Nation’s objectives regarding waterway management. The tool provides Nations with the opportunity to be out on Country and document valuable information regarding waterways from their own perspectives.
Traditional Owners are using the AWA methodology and the information it provides to create a variety of maps, reports, and charts that can be used to advance their Nation’s interests. Because the tool is First Nations-led, AWAs demonstrate self-determination and promote decolonisation and justice in the waterway management space. For more information on AWA uses and outcomes read this paper.
Developed collaboratively by the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), the AWA tool draws on an established methodology, the Māori Cultural Health Index (CHI). Given the successes of the Māori CHI, the AWA tool was developed in consultation with Dr Gail Tipa, the Māori researcher who led the establishment of the Māori CHI.
MLDRIN is involved in the application and training of the AWA tool through planning assistance, on-site organisation, facilitation support, data analysis, and report writing. This involvement is provided with the goal of equipping Traditional Owners and Aboriginal organisations to run the tool independently. This knowledge-building process equips Traditional Owners with skills that will allow them to identify and work towards waterway priorities independently of MLDRIN.