Welcome to Aboriginal Values in Water
Victorian water corporations and VicWater recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Nations of this country. We proudly acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands and waterways on which we work and live, and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise and value the continuing rich cultures and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Victorian community.
Water corporations are undertaking a range of initiatives and activities to support Aboriginal inclusion, participation, engagement and employment in the Victorian water sector, in line with the relevant actions and measures in Water for Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework.
Below are examples of just some of the initiatives that are helping to recognise Aboriginal values in water, encourage cross-cultural learning and achieve shared benefits for water corporations, Traditional Owners and the broader Victorian community.
Killara Kooyong project
A pilot eel aquaculture project using water from Budj Bim in south-west Victoria. Wannon Water donated excess aquaculture equipment to pilot a project that holds and grows eels captured in Lake Condah for commercial sale. The aim of the project is to re-establish traditional eel farming and restore its integral role in Gunditjmara society. The project has the potential to generate a economic return to the Gunditjmara community through the sale of smoked eels and interpretive tours for visitors. The pilot project will create 12 employment opportunities for local Traditional Owner groups and will determine future economic benefits if a permanent facility were to proceed. Wannon Water and Deakin University have been assisting Gunditjmara with the grant writing, design, planning and construction of this facility. The focus is on developing a feasible business opportunity for the Gunditjmara community in south-west Victoria. The project will enable access to water and commercial eel markets, and the development of a business model that can be transferred to other Victorian Traditional Owner groups and communities for the benefit of other Aboriginal Victorians. The project received funding under the ‘Supporting Aboriginal Access to Water for Economic Development Program’.
The First Nations Artwork project incorporates First Nations values for water across five City West Water assets. City West Water and SALT Studio have worked together to turn plain, often graffitied, electrical cabinets into beautiful works of First Nations art. For First Nations peoples, the sharing of culture and lore is traditionally passed on through song, dance, art and creation stories. Using these cabinets as a different platform to share the same knowledge was identified as a great opportunity. Therefore, City West Water engaged SALT Studio to turn the cabinets into beautiful visual stories sharing knowledge of First Nations culture. Three First Nation female artist from SALT Studio developed the story concept of the water warrior themed around water, land, ceremony, totems, community and implemented the designs onto the five cabinets.
Release into Moorabool River
Central Highlands Water worked with Corangamite CMA and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to provide a release from Lal Lal Reservoir which recognised the need for water for environmental and Traditional Owner values and balanced this with the need for certainty of supply to the Ballarat region. The release was made possible by an innovative offset arrangement involving use of the Victorian Water Grid. The release did not impact on long-term water security to Ballarat, did not impose additional cost on Ballarat communities and was greenhouse gas neutral. Key outcomes for the Moorabool River were reducing risk of fish deaths through the dry summer as well as recognising Aboriginal values.
Framlingham Community water quality improvement
Wannon Water received $1.4million from Aboriginal Victoria to improve water quality in the Framlingham Community. The funds received will be used to collaborate with community and community administrators to build the required infrastructure, establish operational practices and educate community members on the delivery of better quality water to the Framlingham Community. Wannon Water is a stakeholder on the Framlingham Community Safety Working Group (Infrastructure) through which this project initiative began. This investment will deliver increased health benefits through consistent water quality and security of supply and continue to build capacity through engagement and education within the Framlingham Community.
Celebrating 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, Melbourne Water hosted Yaluk Biik Baan, an event week designed to increase knowledge and awareness of Aboriginal culture. With two bus tours, a language forum, and an art exhibition, there were plenty of activities across multiple sites to encourage participation.