Incorporating Traditional Owner ecological knowledge and cultural values in Victorian waterways

Victorian Traditional Owners have managed land and water sustainably for thousands of generations. The Victorian water sector is working with Traditional Owner groups across the state to incorporate their ecological knowledge and cultural values in water planning and management.

Aboriginal Waterway Assessments (AWA) are an important tool to help incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into water planning and management. An AWA is an assessment methodology that uses a consistent set of questions and ratings to Traditional Owners to assess the cultural health of their Country and set priorities for environmental water delivery. Water corporations including Coliban Water, Western Water and Goulburn Murray Water are supporting the development of AWA processes for rivers and waterways within their service areas.

Water corporations including Gippsland Water, Yarra Valley Water, South East Water and Westernport Water are under­taking cultural flow assessments and cultural values studies to identify areas of cultural value and sensitivity for waterways within their operational areas, to assist with future management and planning.

Other water corporations are using different ways of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into their businesses. For example, Melbourne Water is developing a Cultural Fire Plan with Wadawurrung, the Traditional Owners of Country west of the Werribee River, to manage grassland at the Western Treatment Plant.

To find out more about the initiatives and activities that support Aboriginal inclusion, participation, engagement and employment in the Victorian water sector, see the Victorian Water Industry Recognising and Managing for Aboriginal Values Report (February 2020).