Water Journal : Water Journal June 2013
WATER JUNE 2013 32 Feature Article requirements and estimate the relative bene t of this water use compared to competing stakeholders. Australian water policy requires that States and Territories "have regard to Aboriginal values in water resources management", but this is reliant on a measure of Aboriginal values that can be incorporated in resource planning processes (Jackson et al., 2010). "Cultural ow" is a new term developed to describe the water required to support Aboriginal values and cultural practices. This should not be confused with environmental ow, although the latter has traditionally been considered by regulators as adequate to support both (MDBA, 2013). The National Native Title Council has commenced the National Cultural Flows Research Project to begin the process of quantifying cultural ows. Component 1 is to be completed mid-2013 and seeks to create a comprehensive reference of known Aboriginal water uses and values, projects and methodologies that have described the cultural values of water. Both national and international examples will be collated (MDBA, 2013). COLLABORATION FOR AUSTRALIAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Communities are acutely aware of their position and rights within Australian land and resource policy, as well as the challenge of maintaining and reclaiming Aboriginal culture, one of the oldest continuous cultures on the planet (Australian Geographic, 2011). During our visits, elders spoke in depth about their own efforts to rehabilitate their land and collect "rigorous and defendable" data in ways that are meaningful to regulators. Inspiring examples of this are Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation's (YYNAC) cultural mapping project and Kooma Traditional Owners Association Inc's revegetation project. As we travelled down the Murray-Darling Basin on our own "talking journey" each community had new lessons to share with the Dialogues group on natural resource management and were similarly interested in what the participants' organisations had to offer in turn. Suggestions included helping Aboriginal communities to better understand the potential impacts of projects proposed for their land, and opportunities for sustainable technology on-Country. Non-Aboriginal Australia has a huge opportunity to listen and learn from these stories, beliefs and practices to facilitate healthier and more culturally rich landscapes and waterways. Likewise, Aboriginal Australia can learn how cultural beliefs correlate to or SOME OF THE PLACES THE TOUR VISITED MURRA MURRA The Dialogues group spent three days visiting Murra Murra Station, land owned and managed by Kooma Traditional Owners Association Inc (KTOAI). Murra Murra is located on 40 kilometres of the Nebine Creek, and is south-east of Cunnamulla, South- West Queensland. Since regaining their land through a decade of Native Title process, KTOAI has been working on a number of initiatives including a revegetation project in partnership with Melbourne Water Corporation in Victoria, and solar power and amenities provision with EWB. The last is currently seeking funding to progress to construction. Slowly, KTOAI is achieving its aims of creating a refuge of culture and natural heritage, and providing opportunities for Kooma people to reconnect with traditional lands. Uncle Dave, a Kooma (Gwamu) elder, led our cultural heritage tour on-Country, proudly sharing stories and evidence of his people's habitation of the land. Grinding grooves on top of natural rock formations that their ancestors used as sh traps were one tangible mark that we all marvelled at. When the river owed across the rock formation, sh would become trapped underneath, creating a 'natural refrigerator' that food could be plucked from as needed. This re ected the belief to only take what you need, when you need it. CAMP COORONG After a long drive south through Broken Hill, we continued past Mannum in South Australia to Camp Coorong at the mouth of the Murray River. This is a place where Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal alike can learn Ngarrindjeri traditions. Uncle Tom shared a wealth of knowledge about Australian political history and resource management from the perspective of his Nation. During a tour on-Country, he identi ed an abundance of native plants and described their uses as food and traditional medicine. Today, this area is a seed bank, supplying revegetation projects in other areas of South Australia. He explained which plants in particular help to keep salinity down, and how to pull up yucca for a drink if you get stuck in the bush. Uncle Tom discussed his belief that healthy, clean water for the Coorong should be an essential part of their Native Title rights, to keep both the land and the culture alive. "You can't attach dollars to the water -- it's been sustaining the land for thousands of years". Equally, he recognised that irrigators see the water as sustaining their lifestyles too; it's not only Aboriginal people that rely on it now. For Aboriginal people, sustaining the landscape is about sustaining their culture and vice versa. One example that Uncle Tom clari ed for us was that of having plants and animals as group and personal totems, or Ngaitji in the Ngarrindjeri language. This practice created a sense of custodianship, Dialogues participants taking a trip in locally painted canoes on Nebine Creek, Murra Murra.
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