Australian Indigenous Water Roundtable

Project details

Objective: To establish and support a National Indigenous Reference Group for water issues.

$450,000 (excluding GST) from the Australian Government Raising National Water Standards Program

Jurisdiction: National
Commenced: 19 February 2009
Project status: Completed


About the project

The Australian Indigenous Water Roundtable project convened an Indigenous Water Planning Forum in Adelaide, in February 2009. This Forum set the stage for the program of activities that would occur under this project. The Forum was attended by approximately 50 Indigenous leaders from across Australia, who discussed Indigenous water access issues and selected an interim National Indigenous Reference Group to provide guidance to the Commission. The Reference Group held their first meeting being held in Canberra, in March 2009 and established their Terms of Reference and a process for transitioning their role to an ongoing reference group, the First Peoples’ Water Engagement Council.

The First Peoples' Water Engagement Council (FPWEC) who was established to provide advice to the Commission on national Indigenous water issues held their first meeting in June 2010. The members, appointed by former Commission Chair and CEO Ken Matthews are:

Cheryl Buchanan, (Kooma (Gwamu)), George Cooley (Yanyula and Antakirinja Mutu-Yankuntjatjara), Phil Duncan (Gomeroi), Bradley Moggridge (Kamilaroi), Lillian Moseley (Dunghutti), Robert Dalton (Mudburra) and Brian Wyatt (Yued and Banyjima). Read more about the members of the FPWEC.

The FPWEC met on eight occasions until June 2012 to discuss how to improve the indigenous access to water for cultural and economic purposes in water planning and management Australia. The FPWEC consulted widely with Aboriginal groups from across Australia to develop a number of key documents designed to inform Australian Governments on how to improve the engagement of Indigenous Australians in water planning and management and to delivery water for cultural values and economic development. Read more about the First Peoples’ Water Engagement Council.

The work program of the FPWEC culminated in them hosting the First Peoples’ National Water Summit in Adelaide, March 2012, where they achieve endorsement of their policy positions on water for cultural and economic purposes, from over 70 Aboriginal delegates from across Australia. Using feedback from this Summit and drawing on the good work of other groups the FPWEC delivered their policy Advice to the National Water Commission on 30 May 2012.

Project outcomes

This project has made a significant contribution to advancing policy discussion on Indigenous water issues in Australia. The FPWEC have been instrumental in raising the profile of these issues through conferences, workshops, meetings and through their Submission to the Commissions 2011 Biennial Assessment and their Advice to the Commission. 

The FPWEC advice to the Commission informed the development of the National Water Commissions policy position on Indigenous access to water.