National Water Week 2021 - Caring for water and Country

National water week - Caring for water and country 18-24 October. Graphic event poster

This week (18-24 October) we celebrate National Water Week, organised by the Australian Water Association, where communities and organisations build awareness around the value of water.

This year the #NWW2021 theme is Caring for water and Country, which celebrates the vital and cultural role that water plays in our lives. We are asked to reflect on our local environment and think about how First Nations peoples care for Country. Caring for water and Country aims to deepen our understanding of First Nations people's knowledge in protecting and sustaining our water and lands for over 65,000 years. So, if you are out and about near your local waterway this week, take a moment to think about the role it plays in sustaining the Tasmanian Aboriginal people of the area.

Sara Naylor (DPIPWE Water Planner and Vice President of the Tasmanian Branch of the AWA) says it's important to build our understanding of Tasmanian Aboriginal water interests and connection to Country, and to recognise that water and land are one. Sara highlights that this year's Water Week theme links to the NAIDOC Week 2021 theme of Heal Country and also builds on the AWA national level journey they are starting to develop their Reconciliation Action Plan. You are invited to watch the recent “More than a word, Reconciliation takes action." webinar anytime during Water Week and to reflect on what Caring for water and Country means to you. Perhaps you'll be inspired to create and add a video to social media using hashtags #NWW2021, #Caring4waterandCountry, #NWW2021WaterAmbassador and #NationalWaterWeek2021.

To celebrate National Water Week, primary school students are invited to create a poster reflecting what Caring for water and Country means to them. If you have a creative young person in your life, encourage them to submit an entry to the NWW Poster Competition​ or feel free to forward details to your local primary school. 

Responsibility for the management and use of freshwater in Tasmania is shared by many organisations across Tasmania – DPIPWE, Hydro Tasmania, TasWater, Environment Protection Authority, Inland Fisheries Service, NRM organisations, Tasmanian Irrigation.  It is important that we now consider the value of freshwater to Tasmanian Aboriginal people as the traditional and original owners of this land, and the importance of integrating their knowledge into how we care for this precious resource.

A range of National and State initiatives have an increased focus on Aboriginal freshwater interests and the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the ongoing management of our water resources.  

These initiatives include:​
  • National Water Initiative renewal
  • Development of an inland water target for Closing the Gap
  • Truth-telling and treaty talks
  • DPIPWE's Rural Water Use Strategy and Water Management Planning framework

With these policy drivers in mind, staff in the Water Policy and Planning Branch are embarking on a process to talk with Tasmanian Aboriginal people to better understand the importance of freshwater and its associated cultural values to them, and what engagement on these matters into the future may look like. This is the start of an ongoing conversation that will support future water planning work and develop a shared understanding of cultural freshwater values.

To check out what is happening around Australia for National Water Week and other resources visit the National Water Week website.

The artwork titled “Our Waters” was produced with Spirit Creative by artist Dennis Golding whose connection to Country stems from the freshwater and saltwater regions of northern and north-west NSW. 

The patterns flow through different water streams and continue the paths around the circular motifs that often reference meeting places and waterholes. The waters operate as a protector of these grounds to acknowledge First people’s connection to land and waters as they too care for Country now, and who have done so since time immemorial.​