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Published: 29 June 2018   •   Media release

As ancestral owners, it is critical that Aboriginal people have a strong voice and role in water management. New research launched today by Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, David Littleproud, provides a solid basis for understanding how to deliver cultural flows.

Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chief Executive Phillip Glyde, said the research highlighted the opportunities and challenges for water managers in incorporating cultural flows into Australia's water management framework.

"I congratulate the National Cultural Flows Research Committee on the comprehensive research they've released today," Mr Glyde said.

"The MDBA has supported this research from the start because we recognise the critically important role that Aboriginal people play in designing strong water management practices and policies in Australia, including in the Murray–Darling Basin.

"The Basin Plan is all about securing a sustainable future for the environment, as well as for the industries and communities of the Basin.

"The Plan requires us to ensure Aboriginal interests are considered in ongoing water planning, management and monitoring activities and research like this informs how we can go about that in a meaningful way.

"Cultural flows are water entitlements that are legally owned and managed by Aboriginal people to improve their spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic conditions.

"This research, for the first time has demonstrated the link between culture, ecology and social wellbeing. It finds that cultural flows and environmental flows are not the same thing but can complement each other.

"The MDBA already has work underway to better integrate Aboriginal expertise into Murray–Darling Basin water management.

"For example, the MDBA provides support and funding for two dedicated peak representative bodies—the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN)—who have partnered on this research.

"We have agreed and formalised a process with these two organisations to ensure the views and interests of Aboriginal people in the Basin are reflected in Water Resource Plans that detail the water rules and take effect from 1 July 2019.

"From 2018-19 we will also work with NBAN and MLDRIN to incorporate Aboriginal knowledge into the planning and management of water for the environment that MDBA undertakes.

"We'll also be working with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to report annually on how Aboriginal values and water uses are considered in environmental water use and planning.

"Importantly the Australian Government recently announced $40 million over four years to purchase cultural and economic water entitlements and undertake the associated planning."

"This research is an evidence base to support these efforts."

A package of reports and information is available on the MLDRIN website.


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