Skip to main content
Go to search page

Working with First Nations

The First Nations of the Murray–Darling Basin are acknowledged and respected by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

We recognise the deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection that First Nations have to their lands and waters. We also value the contributions of earlier generations, including the Elders, who have fought for their rights in natural resource management.

The MDBA engages with Traditional Owners in line with the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the Akwé: Kon Guidelines. These frameworks ensure First Nations of the Basin are engaged in an appropriate and respectful manner. This includes providing adequate time and information about the consent process.

Listening to First Nations

Depending upon the scale of the activities, the MDBA’s work with First Nations may involve individual or multiple Nations, and/or First Nations representative organisations.

The following diagram shows how this engagement works:

Typical process of engagement between Aboriginal people and the MDBA

Getting the full picture

To help the MDBA get the views of First Nations on Basin-wide issues, in addition to the Basin Community Committee, the MDBA has an agreement in place with the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN). MLDRIN is an independent and self-determining Traditional Owner-based organisation that focuses on natural resource management. This makes it an invaluable partner in managing water in the Basin.

There are also a number of Nations that aren’t affiliated with MLDRIN. The MDBA engages with those Nations in a meaningful, culturally appropriate manner.

Murray Lower Darling Aboriginal Nations (MLDRIN)

MLDRIN is a confederation of First Nations from the southern part of the Murray–Darling Basin. The organisation includes representation from as far north as the Macquarie River in Wiradjuri Country, to the Coorong and Lower Lakes on Ngarrindjeri Country in South Australia.

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN)

NBAN was formed in April 2010 and is a confederation of sovereign First Nations from the northern part of the Murray–Darling Basin. The organisation includes representation from First Nations from as far north as Charleville in Gunggari Country to Tamworth in Kamilaroi Country in central New South Wales.

The MDBA finalised its contractual arrangements with NBAN in November 2022.

Basin Community Committee

Engagement with the Basin’s Traditional Owners is also supported by the Basin Community Committee which includes First Nations committee members and an Indigenous subcommittee, who provide advice on matters relating to First Nations interests in the Basin.

The Basin Community Committee provides a community perspective on a wide range of water resource, environmental, cultural and socioeconomic matters across the Murray–Darling Basin.


Interview with Phil Duncan Basin Community Committee Chair and Gwydir Basin Community Committee member

Strengthening Connections Committee

The Strengthening Connections Committee oversees the development and implementation of the MDBA Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP is a strategic plan aimed at improving relationships, showing respect and increasing opportunities to deliver outcomes for First Nations people.

The plan outlines our vision as well as a work program, which is implemented over a specified time period, to contribute to connecting with First Nations culture through relationships, respect and opportunities.

Updated: 14 Nov 2022