A NSW Government website

Aboriginal Water Programs

Regional Aboriginal Water Committees

Committees for Aboriginal people across NSW to provide advice on water planning and management.

Aboriginal artwork

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and we show our respect for Elders past, present and emerging through thoughtful and collaborative approaches to our work, seeking to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing places in which Aboriginal people are included socially, culturally and economically.

About the committees

Water is sacred to Aboriginal people, and we know from years of discussions with Elders and other representatives that they need to have more of a say in guiding water planning, so their rights and cultural values are considered at a local level.

In July and August 2023, the Aboriginal Water Program ran an expressions of interest process seeking applications from Aboriginal people to become Regional Aboriginal Water Committee members.

The purpose of the committees is to give greater recognition to Aboriginal water rights and interests, ensuring Aboriginal people can contribute to water management.

Committee group progress update

As a result of the expressions of interest process, 12 committees have been established covering the below regions:

  • Border Rivers/ Gwydir
  • Far North Coast
  • Hunter
  • Namoi
  • North Coast
  • Macquarie/Castlereagh
  • North-western
  • South-western
  • Lachlan
  • Murray
  • Murrumbidgee
  • South Coast/Sydney
Map of NSW showing committee regions
Map of NSW showing the 12 regions covered by the Regional Aboriginal Water Committees

The committees will meet up to 4 times a year within their region and operate until 30 June 2025. The first meetings of the committees were held in Wagga Wagga, Dubbo and Tamworth in November and December 2023.

Summaries of the discussions held at committee meetings will be available on this webpage after the meetings.

One of the first roles of the committees will be to contribute to the development of the Aboriginal Water Strategy.

Role of committee members

The committees will:

  • empower Aboriginal communities to participate in water programs
  • build new relationships across water
  • ensure Aboriginal rights and values are considered in water planning, programs and projects
  • enable exchange of water knowledge in regional communities
  • assist the department staff to identify key stakeholders from a local Aboriginal community to be engaged and consulted where required
  • share appropriate knowledge to benefit water management
  • work in partnership with the department and other water agencies to contribute to water policy review and development.

Selection criteria

Regional Aboriginal Water Committee members must:

  • identify as an Aboriginal person, have the ancestral links, and be accepted by their community as a person who can represent their interests
  • reside in a local Nation or community they would represent
  • have knowledge of local water issues in the region, including Aboriginal cultural water knowledge and basic knowledge of how water is used and allocated, infrastructure, policy, strategy and planning of water on country
  • make a commitment to travel to and participate in up to 4 meetings a year.

Not be public servants.

More information

For more information visit Aboriginal water program

Contact us

For further enquiries, please contact the Aboriginal Water Programs Team:

Email: awp.engagementteam@dpie.nsw.gov.au
Call: 1300 081 047

Artist acknowledgement: Nathan Peckham

As a proud Tubba-gah man from Dubbo in the Wiradjuri Nation, I respectfully acknowledge all nations which the NSW DPE operates on. I acknowledge this artwork will be viewed off my home country of the Tubba-gah people and therefore ask you accept this artwork as an offering on behalf of my family as a gesture of continuing the legacy of the knowledge of our ancestors.

I would also like to pay respect to all traditional custodians of the country whose ancestral lands we all walk upon. I thank the Elders for their wisdom, courage, and sacrifice and pledge my commitment to preserving their legacy for future generations.

- Nathan Peckham