New river council will give traditional owners in the Kimberley a unified voice

  • Written by Sue Jackson, Professor, ARC Future Fellow, Griffith University

Traditional owners in Western Australia’s Kimberley region have formed a new organisation to help manage the Fitzroy River. The Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council could set a precedent in WA for collaborative planning between government, industry and the native title holders of an entire river catchment.

The aspirations of Kimberley traditional owners to safeguard the future of the Fitzroy are consistent with those of many other Aboriginal groups, who have long been dissatisfied with mainstream approaches to managing Australia’s major river catchments. Statements such as the Echuca Declaration and the Mary River Statement make it clear that rivers are essential to life and traditional owners have a responsibility to protect them.

Large rivers flow through many different Indigenous lands. To comprehensively represent traditional owners’ rights and interests, alliances constituted at the catchment or basin scale have been formed. For example, the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations both aim to uphold traditional owners’ rights and interests in the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Read more: Deal on Murray Darling Basin Plan could make history for Indigenous water rights

The new Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council wants to ensure that lessons are learned from experiences in the Murray-Darling Basin, where the environment has been severely degraded and Aboriginal nations were previously excluded from land and water management.

A 12-member delegation from the new council met with WA departmental heads in Perth this week, to advocate for support for the new management structure and the peoples who share custodianship of the river, known as Mardoowarra or Martuwarra in the Nyikina language. The council also called for a moratorium on all future water allocations until a catchment-wide management plan is in place.

New river council will give traditional owners in the Kimberley a unified voice Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council founding members. Kimberley Land Council, Author provided

The Fitzroy River region exemplifies the kind of social and cultural complexity that significantly challenges standard approaches to catchment management. It is home to at least 30 Aboriginal communities living on lands recognised under seven native title determinations. The river crosses seven ethno-linguistic areas with a complex array of longstanding cultural affiliations. Narratives, beliefs and practices reflect and reinforce deeply held cultural connections to lands and waters.

The river and its 20 tributaries drain 100,000 square kilometres of savannah that support almost 50 pastoral stations and a rich diversity of plant and animal life. It is home to at least 37 species of fish, including the critically endangered large-tooth sawfish, as well as many species valued by recreational and customary fishers. Tourism is significant to the economy, particularly during the warm, dry months that coincide with southern Australia’s winter.

For traditional owners, these beautiful landscapes and valuable fishing grounds also bear the imprint of ancestral beings who brought the world into being and continue to enliven it with their actions. All of these outstanding heritage values won the West Kimberley and the Fitzroy River national heritage listing in 2011.

The Fitzroy River is facing more water extraction and intensifying land use on its floodplains – concerns that were highlighted by traditional owners in the 2016 Fitzroy River Declaration. It is imperative to plan and manage the competing demands on the river. But managing an entire river system in an integrated way is challenging.

The WA government has stated its commitment to the long-term health of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River catchment via integrated land and water planning. It has affirmed the “unique role of Indigenous people in making policy decisions about the future”.

But Indigenous governance systems do not align with the boundaries of existing natural resource management organisations, or with the stakeholder model of political representation. Advisory committees and catchment management authorities often seek just one or two representatives of the many Indigenous groups that are typically affected by management decisions.

The Daly River region of the Northern Territory illustrates this model’s shortcomings. The river is a “significant ceremonial track” – meaning that sacred site protection is a crucial consideration – and its catchment is home to 11 different language groups with rights and interests in the river. Traditional owners formed the Daly River Aboriginal Reference Group in 2005 to give all custodians a voice in land use and water allocation planning.

Read more: New law finally gives voice to the Yarra River's traditional owners

If endorsed as a planning partner by the WA government, and accordingly resourced and supported, the new Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council could perform three important tasks.

First, it could support the government’s catchment-wide planning process by bringing together representatives of every group that can speak for, and has knowledge of, sections of the river and its hinterland.

Second, it could facilitate the inclusion of Aboriginal governance principles, ecological knowledge and socioeconomic objectives in land and water policy.

And third, it could contribute to adaptive management by developing long-term relationships with all stakeholders in the catchment.

Like similar models in other parts of the country, the Martuwarra Council prompts us to think about the vital role of water in mediating not only ecological and hydrological connections, but social, cultural and political relationships too.

Authors: Sue Jackson, Professor, ARC Future Fellow, Griffith University

Read more http://theconversation.com/new-river-council-will-give-traditional-owners-in-the-kimberley-a-unified-voice-98390

Australia Today

Capturing the shadow of Saturn's moon Titan from right here on Earth

David Coward, Associate professor, University of Western Australia

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures Saturn's largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings.NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science InstituteTitan is Saturn’s largest moon, and it is more like a planet than a moon in many respects.It has a thick atmosphere as well as wind, rivers, lake...

Read more

Battle scars reveal the life of 'Mephisto', a WW1 German tank from a century ago

Michael Westaway, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University

Mephisto after its capture in France by the Australian 26th Battalion.Queensland Museum, Author providedWhat can we possibly learn from the archaeological study of a World War I battle tank? Quite a lot, it turns out, when the attention is devoted to a rare German-built A7V Sturmpanzerwagen tank kno...

Read more

are phone-obsessed teens at greater risk of ADHD?

Hannah Kirk, Research Fellow in Psychology, Monash University

Hyperactivity and inattentiveness doesn't mean you have ADHD.Ant RozetskyThis week, news outlets across the world reported a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) linking digital media exposure to reduced attention spans and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)...

Read more

Is the 'Zero Hour' youth climate march a turning point, or more of the same?

Marc Hudson, PhD Candidate, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester

This weekend, young climate activists will march through Washington DC’s National Mall. The rally, part of the Zero Hour movement, is another sign of the concern and dismay felt by young people after 30-plus years of prevarication and hesitation by their elders. Just as young Americans are rea...

Read more

Michelle Grattan on the Mayo byelection and crossbenchers in the parliament

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie is polling strongly ahead of next weekend's byelection in the South Australian seat of Mayo.AAP/Roy VandervegtMichelle Grattan discusses the week in politics with Director of the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, Ma...

Read more

do neckties reduce blood supply to the brain?

Steve Kassem, Postdoctoral fellow, Neuroscience Research Australia

The fashion advice is generally to tighten ties so they're tight but not too tight.from www.shutterstock.comNews reports about a study from Germany may provide the ultimate excuse for men to dress more casually for work, finding neckties reduce blood supply to the brain.The study showed that wearing...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Matakauri Lodge and Mahu Whenua Lodge

TRIED, TRUE AND SOMETHING NEW  A luxurious accommodation package at Matakauri Lodge + Mahu Whenua Lodge South Island, New Zealand  Available 1 May, 2018 - 30 September, 2018   Central Otago, NEW ZEALAND –...

Heaven is the Adelaide Hills

Looking for a quick getaway? Enjoy food and wine? How about stunning countryside? Look no further! The Adelaide Hills has something for everyone. We flew to Adelaide for a weekend-getaway...

5 Amazing Australian Holiday Ideas

Australia is one of the most fantastic places in the world to travel, explore, and witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. With so much rich...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

Eye Health Dos and Don'ts

Most people take their eyes for granted and spend little to no time thinking about their eye health until they notice something wrong. This leads to plenty of common and...

Non-invasive Cosmetic Treatments

In a world where everyone is chasing perfection, plastic surgeries have become more and more common to the point where it’s odd if you don’t get one during your life...

My Health Yoga

Carrie-Anne Fields of My Health Yoga has taken her Gold Coast yoga teacher training worldwide. She started her health business 20 years ago aged 22 and has grown into a...

Fit Body 101 - Increase Your Fitness Effectiveness

You have to find some space for physical exercise in your weekly schedule in order to live a good life. Embracing this way of life is very beneficial because it...

The World of Dentistry: 5 Most Common Dental Procedures in Australia

Are you dissatisfied with the state of your pearly whites? Do you often experience discomfort and pain while eating and drinking? Well, be sure that you’re not the only one...

How You Can Conquer Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of going to the dentist fill you with dread? Well, you will be pleased to know that you are not the only one. A large number of...

LIFE STYLE

Dog Flea Allergy

Severe itchy skin disease in dogs causes Flea bite hypersensitivity. The itch is as a result of an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea which is injected into...

5 Ways to Turn Your Bedroom into a True Zen Retreat

The bedroom should be our little sanctuary where we come to relax after a long day of work. However, in order to be able to unwind all the accumulated stress...

Things to Consider when Deciding on your Wedding Flowers for the Big Day

Choosing the wedding flowers is a complicated process where you have to take into account many elements, from the wedding dress to the wedding theme. You can discover in this...

Renovating tips for your house

There are very few property owners who move into a house where they don’t want to make any changes. Alterations are almost inevitable every time you move-house, but alterations can...

Tips for Decluttering Your Yard

Decluttering probably sounds like a tedious job, but it’s essential if you want to have a nice, well-decorated backyard. Bad organization habits and hoarding can eventually lead to clutter, and...

Dry Carpet Cleaning Vs Steam Carpet Cleaning: Which one to Choose?

A clean carpet not only improve your interiors, increases your comfort around the office and home but also beneficial for your health. This is why it is necessary to choose...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...