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Media Release: Forum highlights need for Indigenous engagement in water planning (2011)

Date: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indigenous people play a vital role in managing water resources and must be engaged in water allocation planning to capitalise on future economic development opportunities and to protect environmental and cultural values for generations to come.

These were the messages conveyed by Traditional Owners within the Oolloo Water Allocation Plan Area at the closing of the Oolloo Indigenous Water Forum yesterday.

Wagiman Traditional Owner Mona Liddy said it is important that the NT Government continues to consult Traditional Owners on decisions regarding water planning and management. “It is comforting to see the NT Government here today listening to the concerns we have about water in the Oolloo aquifer. It is crucial that the NT Government continues to listen to Traditional Owners and ensure that our interests and concerns are addressed in the Draft Oolloo Water Allocation Plan.”

NAILSMA and NLC have hosted the Oolloo Indigenous Water Forum for the past two days in the Douglas-Daly region. The forum included a closed meeting for Traditional Owners from Wagiman, Wardaman, Larbagunyan and Dagoman language groups and key Indigenous leaders on Monday 17 October. On Tuesday 18 October, key NT Government representatives, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) and Daly River Management Advisory Committee (DRMAC) were invited to join the discussion and inform Traditional Owners about the Oolloo Water Allocation Planning process.

NAILSMA and the Northern Land Council (NLC) conducted consultative workshops in the Oolloo and Mataranka Water Allocation Plan areas over the past four months. The workshops were an opportunity for Traditional Owners to consider a proposed Strategic Indigenous Reserve in these areas. A Strategic Indigenous Reserve (SIR) provides Indigenous people within a water allocation plan area with an amount of water for future economic development.

NAILSMA CEO Joe Morrison said the Oolloo Indigenous Water Forum was an opportunity for Traditional Owners to learn about the opportunities presented by including a Strategic Indigenous Reserve in the Oolloo Water Allocation Plan.

“This is an opportunity for Traditional Owners in the plan area to ensure that future generations have an opportunity to benefit from a Strategic Indigenous Reserve. For the first time since planning commenced, Indigenous people in this area are communicating their important role in the management of an important part of north Australia’s water
resources”.

"It is important that the NT Government consider changes to its policies and legislation that enable Indigenous people to participate in the management of water resources, as they have done for millennia.”

Download Media Release pdf below.
For more information download Water Planning News pdf below.

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