Cathy Robinson, Sue Jackson, Anna Straton, Rachel Eberhard,
Tabatha Wallington, Peta Dzidic, Jeff Camkin and Erin Bohensky
Final Report – August 2009
Review of existing cultural and social initiatives,
and key groups and organisations across northern Australia associated with water
Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Report series ISSN: 1835-095X
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Citation: Robinson, CJ., S. Jackson, A. Straton, R. Eberhard, T. Wallington, P. Dzedic, J. Camkin and E. Bohensky 2009. Review of existing cultural and social initiatives and key groups and organisations across northern Australia associated with water.
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Cover Photograph: Dr Mat Gilfedder © 2009 CSIRO
Executive Summary iii
1. Introduction 1
2. Water context in Northern Australia 9
3. Research initiatives and existing projects across Northern Australia 15
4. Regions in Timor Sea Drainage Division 23
5. Northern Territory regions in Gulf of Carpentaria 33
6. Queensland Regions in Gulf of Carpentaria 40
7. North Coral Region 46
8. Conclusion 49
List of Figures
Figure 1: Drainage Divisions covered by the Assessment 1
Figure 2: Reporting regions defined by the Assessment 2
Figure 3: Responsibilities for water management in Western Australia. Source: National Water Commission website. 3 June 2009. 29
Figure 4: Western Australia’s water policy framework. Source: WA Department of Water website. 3 June 2009. 30
Figure 5: The WA Water Planning Framework. Source: Department of Water website. 3 June 2009. 31
Figure 6: Responsibilities for water management in the Northern Territory. Source: National Water Commission website. Accessed 3 June 2009. 37
Figure 7: Water Legislation and Planning Framework in the NT. Source: National Water Commission website. Accessed 3 June 2009. 38
Figure 8: Responsibilities for water management in Queensland. Source: National Water Commission website. 3 June 2009. 41
Figure 9: Queensland Water Legislation and Planning Framework. Source: National Water Commission website. 3 June 2009. 42
Figure 10: Status of water plans in Queensland. Source: Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water website. May 2009. 44
Special thanks go to TRACK (Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge) who kindly shared their reports with the research team. The timely and professional assistance offered by Sarah Nichol, Melissa Green and Ildiko was invaluable.
We would also like to acknowledge the help by representatives from Indigenous organisations, regional NRM bodies, industry groups and government agencies who provided critical information to inform this review.
This review forms part of a consultancy funded by the Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment (NAWFA) Cultural and Social Program. The overarching objective of the Assessment is to provide an enduring knowledge base to inform the development and protection of Northern Australia’s water resources, so that development proceeds in an ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable manner. The aim of the Cultural and Social Program is to understand the socio-cultural values, beliefs and practices associated with water and how they maybe affected by changes in water availability It is being delivered jointly by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) and the National Water Commission.
The Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts in consultation with the National Water Commission, has commissioned CSIRO to review projects, research initiatives and water planning processes relevant to cultural values, beliefs and practices, including those that relate to social and economic issues, associated with water across northern Australia. A register of key Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups and organisations across northern Australia with an interest in water is also provided. In this context, Northern Australia covers the Timor Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria drainage divisions and that part of the north-east coast drainage division that lies north of Cairns.
This report responds to the aim of the Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment (NAWFA) Cultural and Social Program which was established to understand the socio-cultural values, beliefs and practices associated with water and how they maybe affected by changes in water availability. This review adds to the broader information base that is currently being used in order to inform development and protection of northern Australia’s water sources, so that development proceeds in an ecologically, cultural and economically sustainable manner.