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Ron Archer talks water - Cape York Qld 2011

Ron Archer, Djungan Elder, Upper Mitchell River, Qld
  • Author:  Ron Archer
  • Ron Archer, Djungan Elder, spoke to camera as part of the Upper Mitchell River Traditional Owners’ submission to the National Water Commission.

    “Water issues are important issues for us. We are interested in how water allocation and water markets are going to roll out over our country.

    “But before we talk about water planning we are interested to look at the process of engagement of Indigenous people.

    “When we hear different processes from the State Government, the Federal Government, and NAILSMA, Traditional Owners get confused - it divides us. We want Traditional Owners to stand together so they can make decisions on how water reform affects them on country - so Traditional Owners can agree on a document or report that will benefit all landowners.

    “We have our own way of engaging with each other. We need government people who understand indigenous processes. They need to come in and learn from our process. Once they have learnt and tapped into that, then they can do things the right way: going out on country, listening to old people’s stories.

    “The old people are the ones who’ve got the history of that water flow on country, they have been there the longest!

    “When a young fella comes out of an office and says to do things this way, them old fellas get really discouraged. They say that young fella he knows nothing about this country – he just come from a big flash office in down there somewhere in Canberra.

    “They want people to listen to old fellas talk about the river. Some of those old fellas are getting old now, but they know, they’ve seen the changes, they remember clear water, remember what happened when dams were put in, remember dirty water after bulldozers worked near the river, when fish had to swim in all that muddy water.

    “These are some of the frustrations we have, that people aren’t listening; they are only listening to what they want to hear - to tick the little square box for their reports. We want to know what the process for water planning is for the Mitchell, and we’ll follow it. But it must use Aboriginal processes and include the knowledge of our elders.”

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