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Mataranka Indigenous Water Planning Forum NT 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 09:00 to Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 09:00
Event Type: 
Photo of co-chair Alan Maroney addressing the forum.

Co-chair Alan Maroney addresses the forum.

The aim of the Forum was to provide Traditional Owners within the government proposed Mataranka Water Allocation Plan area an opportunity to discuss their engagement, economic opportunities and concerns with respect to government water planning processes.

Prior to the forum, NAILSMA and the Northern Land Council conducted a series of consultative workshops in the Mataranka Water Allocation Plan around mid 2011. Workshops were commissioned by the NAILSMA Indigenous Water Policy Group as one of its key tasks to define and qualify commercial and non-commercial Indigenous access to water in some water plans in WA, NT and QLD.                                   

Key outcomes from the previous Mataranka workshops were:

  • The Mataranka Traditional Owner Water Allocation Reference Group (MTOWARG) was convened to work with government on water planning processes;

  • raised community awareness about the water planning economic potential through the governments proposed Strategic Indigenous Reserve;

  • development of Indigenous terms for a Strategic Indigenous Reserve (see below) and their associated rules to access the entitlement;

  • introductory engagement with the Mataranaka Water Advisory Committee, and

  • identified concerns and issues with the Draft Mataranka Water Allocation Plan.

NOTE: The Strategic Indigenous Reserve (SIR) is defined as a perpetual, exclusive and inalienable right to a share of water available for consumption in surface and groundwater systems. These water rights would be specifically set aside for activities that contribute to Indigenous prosperity and be held and managed by Traditional Owners across northern Australia.

Outcomes from this Forum

Up to 50 participants attended the forum held at Mataranka Manner, a certified sacred site, and included Traditional Owner family groups, representatives from the Mataranka Water Advisory Committee, the government department of NRETAS and the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.

The forum provided an exchange on the the government proposed Strategic Indigenous Reserve, the DRAFT Mataranka Water Plan, processes for engagement, roles and responsibilities of different structures and setting a path going forward.

Traditional Owners were resolute in its demands on government for better engagement with Traditional Owners.

Traditional Owners raised serious concerns about water planning being inclusive of connectivity of surface with ground water, of upstream with downstream users, a whole of government approach to land and water resource management, and mining and its impact on water for trading, environment and culture.

"We still have a long way to go.  But this is an important step forward toward better planning processes for Indigenous people,”

Joe Morrison (NAILSMA CEO) at the forum.

The government was called on to address deficiencies in the Water Act to support provisions for Indigenous interests such as an economic opportunity through the Strategic Indigenous Reserve and to better support Indigenous working groups in policy and management decision making processes in water planning.

In his closing remarks at the forum, Chair of the Mataranka Traditional Owner Water Allocation Reference Group, Alan Maroney said that both Government and Traditional Owners had come a long way forward in the last few months with the assistance of NAILSMA and NLC. “The challenge now is to keep the door open [with government] to ensure we are part of all decisions about planning and management on our country,” said Mr Maroney.

Next Steps

  1. NAILSMA and NLC will draft a submission to the government Mataranka Water Allocation plan about its concerns and interests for water management.

  2. NAILSMA and NLC will include in the submission provisions for a proposed Strategic Indigenous Reserve.

  3. NAILSMA and NLC to draft a submission to the government review of the NT Water Act.

  4. Work with government for formal recognition of the Mataranka Traditional Owner Water Allocation Reference group and its role as a representative group for Indigenous water management.

  5. Convene another meeting to review draft submissions to government and progress plans to go forward.

View the Indigenous Water Policy Group page under the Water Resource Management Program pages.

Watch this 15 minute video: Mataranka Traditional Owners - Making Our Submission Our Way from the Resources pages.

Download related media developed for this event below.


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