Media Release​

As cultural knowledge grows, cultural water flows​

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion


29 June 2018

  • National Cultural Flows Research Project launched, run by and for Indigenous communities
  • Project clarifies and quantifies the water needs of Indigenous communities
  • Coalition Government has committed $40 million to support Indigenous communities plan and invest in cultural and economic water

Lawmakers will get a better understanding of the cultural value of water for Indigenous communities with the release of the National Cultural Flows Research Project today.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the Coalition's $1.6 million investment in the project would improve knowledge of Indigenous water needs.

"This is a project by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people," Minister Littleproud said.

"For the first time in Australia we have a clear insight into how First Nation water needs can be measured.

"All Australian governments, from councils to the Commonwealth, now have a resource which will help them better engage with Indigenous groups.

"This will help in making laws and policies which affect cultural water use across the country.

"I want to make sure we deliver the best possible outcomes for Basin communities—particularly those most in need.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has welcomed this landmark research.

"Since time immemorial, First Australians have cared for and been the custodians of land and fresh and salt waters.

"The Murray Darling Basin is more than just a source of water for agricultural use, it has enormous cultural, social, historical and economic value to Indigenous Australians.

"The Australian Government is committed to water sustainability across the nation, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

"The Government has committed $40 million for cultural and economic water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin and $20 million for economic development projects for communities most impacted by the Murray Darling Basin Plan," Minister Scullion said. 

Fast Facts:

  • The Coalition Government's commitment for Indigenous investment in water includes:
    • $40 million over four years for a program to support Indigenous Basin communities invest in cultural and economic water entitlements.
    • A $20 million grant program over four years for economic development projects in indigenous communities most impacted by the Basin Plan.
      • The communities most in need of such support, such as St George, Dirranbandi, Collarenebri and Warren will be given highest priority.
    • Commitment to two full time staff positions for three years to support Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN).
    • The positions will be supported by a $1.5 million fund for costs associated with these activities, including the continued development of Aboriginal Waterway Assessments.
    • Work with NSW and Queensland to identify water entitlements in the northern Basin that could be allocated to indigenous communities through state water resource plans.​