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Published: 21 January 2009   •   Media release

Communities along the Murray River are to play a bigger role in shaping Australia’s most significant river restoration program.

Murray–Darling Basin Authority Chief Executive Mr Rob Freeman said consultation groups are now functioning at six key sites along the Murray River. The groups will guide community engagement along the river as part of the Authority’s Living Murray program.

The most recently formed reference groups, made up of local community members, will guide engagement at the Hattah Lakes and the Victorian component of the Chowilla-Lindsay-Wallpolla Icon Site.

“This is in addition to existing consultation reference groups at Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest, Barmah-Millewa Forest, the South Australian component of the Chowilla-Lindsay-Wallpolla Icon Site and the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth Icon Site,” Mr Freeman said.

“Members represent a wide range of interests relating to the Murray–Darling Basin and the program’s six priority ‘icon sites’ chosen for their high ecological value.”

Mr Freeman said the Living Murray program was one of world’s most significant river restoration programs.

“It aims to achieve a healthy, working Murray River system and it recognises the important role communities have to play in helping to protect the river environment for current and future generations.

“The groups will play a vital role in ensuring that a broad range of community views are sought when delivering the program at the local level. They will also provide practical advice on the best way to communicate the objectives of The Living Murray program to the wider community.

“To achieve the program’s goals it is important to consider the interests of communities and balance this against environmental, economic and social interests to ensure the best decisions are made for both the community and the environment. These groups will help make this happen,” Mr Freeman said.

The consultation reference groups will meet up to four times each year.

Mr Freeman said a priority for the consultation reference groups will be to help guide the community engagement process on a number of significant engineering projects planned for the icon sites under The Living Murray’s Environmental Works and Measures program.

The Living Murray program was established in 2003 by the Australian, Victorian, New South Wales, South Australian and ACT Governments to tackle the serious decline in the health of the Murray River.

Media contact: Sam Leone, phone (02) 6279 0141

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