The Australian Government continues to implement a package of initiatives to support implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan that was announced in 2018.
The package includes initiatives to improve water access for Indigenous communities in the Murray–Darling Basin.
Funding for Indigenous communities to invest in water
The Australian Government is providing $40 million to help Indigenous communities invest in water for cultural and economic activities through the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
Northern Basin and southern Basin Indigenous communities will each receive $20 million funding.
Funding to strengthen Indigenous partnerships
The Australian Government has funded Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations to employ 2 full-time project officers for 3 years to progress implementation of the Cultural Flows Research Project.
Working to identify water entitlements
The Australian Government will work with the NSW and Queensland governments to identify water entitlements in the northern Basin that could be allocated to Indigenous communities.
These entitlements may be made available to support cultural and economic concerns that Indigenous communities identify as important. For example, Queensland’s Warrego–Paroo–Nebine water resource plan sets aside 900ML of unallocated surface water and 10,000ML of unallocated groundwater for community or Indigenous purposes.
Additional support for Indigenous values, priorities and interests
Additional initiatives include:
- provisions for the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation to allow its funds to be used to access water entitlements as well as land
- prioritising Indigenous and local suppliers to deliver environmental works in the northern Basin that have been agreed to as part of toolkit measures
- supporting projects associated with cultural gatherings and low-impact water recreation, including options to refurbish weirs at Wilcannia (NSW) and Cunnamulla (Qld)
- annual reporting by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority started in 2018 on how Indigenous values and water uses are considered in environmental water use and how Indigenous people are involved in decision‑making
- formal inclusion by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has occurred since 2020-21 to include First Nations values and objectives for the environment.
The Australian Government is working with Basin states and Indigenous stakeholders to deliver initiatives to improve water access for Indigenous communities in the Murray–Darling Basin.
Learn more about the Murray–Darling Basin Plan