About the strategy
Together with First Nations/Aboriginal people, the NSW Government is co-designing a state-wide Aboriginal water strategy. The strategy will identify a program of measures to increase First Nations/Aboriginal people’s water rights and ensure their interests are represented in water management and planning decisions.
Developing the strategy requires a genuine partnership between the department and NSW Aboriginal stakeholders and communities.
We are committed to:
- reviewing and identifying the required amendments to the water management legislative framework to enable Aboriginal rights, interests and ownership of water
- revising existing and developing new water policy and planning approaches
- designing programs that deliver outcomes for First Nations/Aboriginal communities
- securing sustainable funding and resourcing to build the organisational capacity of First Nations/Aboriginal people to enable self-determination and sustained participation in projects relevant to water interests.
The strategy is part of the wider commitment of the NSW Water Strategy and will work to ensure improved access to water for our communities for food, kinship, connection, recreation, stories, song lines and healing.
'The yarns we’ve had'
To start our co-design commitment, we are basing the strategy on six principles that were developed in consultation with Aboriginal communities, Traditional Owners and your representative organisations, including NSW Aboriginal peak bodies. This took place from 2018-2023 in over 75 workshops during our engagement on water resource planning and Regional Water Strategies.
The endorsed and adopted six principles are:
- culture - acknowledge the central role of water in Aboriginal culture, and its inter-dependencies with economic, social and environmental outcomes.
- health and well-being - acknowledge that water (quality and quantity) is critical to sustaining healthy communities, which underpins the ability to live on and care for Country.
- caring for Country - improve and enable access to Country to maintain healthy waterways.
- meaningful engagement - embed culturally appropriate Aboriginal engagement, participation, partnerships and communication processes into water management and government decision-making.
- economic benefit - seek opportunities to use existing water and access to additional water to generate employment and business ventures.
- shared cultural and environmental benefits - seek opportunities to use water allocated for environmental and consumptive purposes to deliver Aboriginal outcomes and benefits where synergies exist.