Water Journal : Water Journal December 2011
feature article feature articles 42 DECEMBER 2011 water The governance structures for water planning frameworks rely on individuals representing our interests. They do not adequately account for our systems and customary law which dictate a broader base of involvement in decision making. Barriers to the effective implementation of NWI clauses include: • Lack of political and broader community understanding about Aboriginal water rights, values and management responsibility; • Appropriate Aboriginal representation; • Difficulties in quantifying Aboriginal water requirements; • Lack of understanding and support for Aboriginal people in the water planning processes; • Low levels of collaboration between Aboriginal people and water planning agencies. Even where Aboriginal cultural values are clearly identified, the identification does not lead to any additional water requirements beyond those specified for environmental needs. FPWEC 2011 Biennial Assessment Submission The First Peoples' Water Engagement Council (FPWEC) recently made a submission to the NWC's review of the implementation of the National Water Initiative. It recommended that Aboriginal people be given greater opportunity to be part of decision making and water planning processes, including having: • Sufficient time to provide input and make decisions within each catchment; • Culturally appropriate resources to build capacity, including the provision of information about water resource management, water infrastructure, water sharing plans and markets and trading; • Effective and collaborative partnerships. It also recommended that Aboriginal people have access to water through special Aboriginal water allocations for purposes to be determined by the Aboriginal people. These should include cultural and economic purposes. This could be achieved though special purpose Aboriginal Economic Water Allocations from the consumptive pool. Culturally informed environmental priorities would be addressed through a separate cultural flows allocation. We also proposed the establishment of an Aboriginal Water Fund or Trust to fund, coordinate and facilitate the acquisition and management of special Aboriginal Economic Water Allocations. The allocation of water entitlements to facilitate economic development is a legitimate strategy to contribute to the Australian Government's 'Closing the Gap' agenda. Where systems are fully allocated, a fund could be established to enable Aboriginal people to enter into and compete in the market. Where systems are not fully allocated, alternative approaches like the Strategic Indigenous Reserves being set aside in the Northern Territory may be more appropriate. The FPWEC is also committed to hosting a National Forum for Aboriginal Water in 2012. We hope to have all the key players from Aboriginal organisations and communities attend. At the forum we will be seeking to obtain a consensus on a range of water issues to present to the Australian Government. Please turn to page 54 for a general report on the 14th International Riversymposium. Boobera Lagoon is considered to be the most important Aboriginal site in south-eastern Australia. Carved trees have been scarred by Aboriginal people for various purposes, from cutting out bark for a canoe to spiritual purposes. Very few carved trees remain today. They are said to be a history book and represent Aboriginal people's soul.
Water Journal April 2012
Water Journal November 2011