Review of existing cultural and social initiatives



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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

Australia is founding its future on science and innovation. Its national science agency, CSIRO, is a powerhouse of ideas, technologies and skills.

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to address Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. They apply large scale, long term, multidisciplinary science and aim for widespread adoption of solutions. The Flagship Collaboration Fund supports the best and brightest researchers to address these complex challenges through partnerships between CSIRO, universities, research agencies and industry.

The Water for a Healthy Country Flagship aims to achieve a tenfold increase in the economic, social and environmental benefits from water by 2025.

For more information about Water for a Healthy Country Flagship or the National Research Flagship Initiative visit www.csiro.au/org/HealthyCountry.html

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.

Copyright and Disclaimer

© 2009 CSIRO To the extent permitted by law, all rights are reserved and no part of this publication covered by copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means except with the written permission of CSIRO.



Important Disclaimer:

CSIRO advises that the information contained in this publication comprises general statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation. No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.



Cover Photograph: Dr Mat Gilfedder © 2009 CSIRO

Contents



Contents iii

Acknowledgments iii

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

Glossary 50

References 51

Appendices 59




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

Acknowledgments

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.

Executive Summary

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.

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