Committee on Aboriginal Water Interests meeting begins

A meeting of the National Committee on Aboriginal Water Interests is being held in Hobart from 21-23 March, with members travelling from across the country to attend.

The Committee’s role is to advise Water Ministers across Australia on Aboriginal freshwater Interests as well as identifying priority national Aboriginal water reform directions to support greater inclusion of Aboriginal people’s interests in freshwater for cultural and economic outcomes.

Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) Acting Secretary Jason Jacobi said NRE Tas is proud to be hosting the committee in conjunction with the Australian Government in Tasmania.

“NRE Tas will be presenting an overview to the Committee of what we are learning and hearing from Tasmanian Aboriginal people that is helping the Department to build a picture of what freshwater means to them,” Mr Jacobi said.

“Putting Tasmanian Aboriginal people at the heart of managing land and sea Country is a strategic priority for the Department.

“Additionally, participating in the National policy initiatives and ensuring that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have the opportunity to engage in water planning in Tasmania is a priority in the Tasmanian Government’s Rural Water Use Strategy.” 

The Rural Water Use Strategy is modernising Tasmania’s policy framework for managing our water resources for rural users, communities, and the environment over the next decade and towards 2050.

“NRE Tas welcomes the committee to Tasmania and is looking forward to the opportunity to build relationships and learn about the committee’s work priorities for 2023,” Mr Jacobi said.

Chair of the Committee on Aboriginal Water Interests, Rene Woods, said restoring access, ownership and decision-making about water to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was a national issue.

“It’s great for the Committee to be on Country walking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to hear first hand the experiences, challenges and opportunities the Mobs are facing in different states and territories – like Tasmania,” Mr Woods said.

“It’s critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included in developing the strategies, plans, legislation and decision making that guide management of our most precious resource – freshwater.”

The event also coincides with World Water Day, on Wednesday 22 March, which is an international day focusing on accelerating change to raise awareness and help solve the issue of people living without access to safe and clean water in parts of the world.