TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Guide to better engage Indigenous people in water planning

Guide to better engage Indigenous people in water planning

 Statutory water rights for Australia's Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities remain one of the major unrealised promises of the national water reform process.

 While some legal and policy provisions for Indigenous water reserves have been created, the gap between these ‘hypothetical’ entitlements and the use of water resources for self-determined economic development opportunities persists.

TRaCK and other agencies including the National Water Commission have attributed this to a range of factors, including a low awareness of water planning processes and water reform generally among Indigenous people. Likewise, agency water planners have found difficulties in undertaking effective Indigenous engagement that contributes directly to statutory water plans.

Drawing from previous TRaCK research, the experiences of the Indigenous Water Facilitator Network and the wide-ranging work done on Indigenous interests in water planning, a field guide has been developed to help Indigenous communities better understand and participate in water planning, and to aid planners in facilitating Indigenous involvement.

The field guide provides a single entry point to the information available and describes what water planning is, how Indigenous people can get engaged and what they need to bring to the table to participate effectively.

The guide is available for download, along with the Indigenous water planning and engagement overview.  A series of powerpoint modules for people giving presentaitons are also available in pdf format. Please contact us if you would like to receive the modules in powerpoint format.

Powerpoint modules

1.1 What is water reform?

1.2 Understanding Australia's tropical rivers

1.3 How are governments involved in water reform?

1.4 The laws and policies of water reform

1.5 How are scientists involved in water reform?

2.1 What is water planning?

2.2 Key terms in water planning

2.3 The water planning cycle

2.4 Science in water planning

2.5 Including community views in planning

3.1 Indigenous engagement and participation

3.2 What Indigenous groups say about water reform

3.3 Principles for good Indigenous engagement

3.4 Water rights and Strategic Indigenous Reserves

3.5 How have other groups been involved in water planning?


Indigenous values and river flows
Indigenous values and river flows
Deciding how to manage water to meet all the needs is called ‘water planning’ – it is critical in reforming the way water is used and shared.