Aboriginal people have a long-standing and strong connection to the Fitzroy River. The river forms an integral part of their way of life and is the foundation of various social activities such as family interactions, ceremonies and hunting and gathering. Native title has been recognised over many parts of the Fitzroy River catchment and this guarantees protection of rights to hunt, fish, and gather other foods and resources.
With increased interest in the expansion of irrigated agriculture in the catchment, these important values could be put at risk. Understanding how they could be impacted by increased development and incorporating new information into water planning rules is reducing that risk.
This research aims to improve knowledge of Indigenous water requirements within the Fitzroy River catchment and to inform plans for future water use. It is identifying customary uses of water and waterways, reveal links between Indigenous values, practices and water regimes, and elicit knowledge, as well as objectives for the future management of land and water resources. Emphasis is also being placed on advancing the field of Indigenous water planning by trialling social assessment methods and showing the value of community participation in environmental flow assessments. It is hoped that the information generated from this project will continue to be of use to Indigenous ranger groups, native title organisations and the Kimberley Land Council, and to state and federal government Natural Resource Management agencies.
The project is following four major steps:
The project is focused on the Fitzroy River catchment in Western Australia. Most activity is concentrated around Fitzroy Crossing and the lower Fitzroy catchment.
Hill, R., Harkness, P., Raisbeck-Brown, N., Lyons, I., Álvarez‑Romero, J.G., Kiatkoski Kim, M., Chungalla, D., Wungundin, H., Aiken, M., Malay, J., Williams, B., Buissereth, R., Cranbell, T. Forrest, J., Hand, M., James, R., Jingle, E., Knight, O., Lennard, N., Lennard, V., Malay, I., Malay, L., Midmee, W., Morton, S., Nulgit, C., Riley, P., Shadforth, I., Bieundurry, J., Brooking, G., Brooking, S., Brumby, W., Bulmer, · V., Cherel, V., Clifton, A., Cox, S., Dawson, M., Gore‑Birch, C., Hill, J., Hobbs, A., Hobbs, D., Juboy, C., Juboy, P., Kogolo, A., Laborde, S., Lennard, B., Lennard, C., Lennard, D., Malay, N., Malay, Z., Marshall, D., Marshall, H., Millindee, L., Mowaljarlai, D., Myers, A., Nnarda, T., Nuggett, J., Nulgit, L., Nulgit, P., Poelina, A., Poudrill, D., Ross, J., Shandley, J., Skander, R., Skeen, S., Smith, G., Street, M., Thomas, P., Wongawol, B., Yungabun, H., Sunfly, A., Cook, C., Shaw, K., Collard, T. and Collard, Y. 2021. Learning Together for with the Martuwarra Fitzroy River. Sustainability Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-021-00988-x
In the face of growing interest in the waters of the Warlibiddi and Martuwarra (Margaret and Fitzroy Rivers) in north-west Western Australia, NESP research has partnered with Traditional Owners to increase our understanding of the rivers’ important cultural and environmental requirements. In this short film, senior Gooniyandi artist Mervyn Street shares his art and storytelling about the waters of the Warlibiddi and Martuwarra, and the waters’ vital significance to the Country and people’s lives.
Mervyn shares his wisdom to help viewers understand the rhythms of water and life and what they mean in his philosophical tradition. He also hopes it will help viewers understand the importance of the Warlibiddi and Martuwarra waters to not only sustain life, but also enable social connections and sustain culture for future generations.
Milgin, A., Nardea, L., Grey, H., Laborde, S., & Jackson, S. Sustainability crises are crises of relationship: Learning from Nyikina ecology and ethics. People Nat. 2020; 00: 1– 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10149
Douglas, M.M., Jackson, S., Canham, C.A., Laborde, S., Beesley, L., Kennard, M.J., Pusey, B.J., Loomes, R. & Setterfield, S.A. (2019). Conceptualizing Hydro-socio-ecological Relationships to Enable More Integrated and Inclusive Water Allocation Planning, One Earth, Volume 1, Issue 3, 361-373, ISSN 2590-3322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2019.10.021.
Jackson, S. (2018). Water and Indigenous rights: Mechanisms and pathways of recognition, representation, and redistribution. WIREs Water e1314, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wat2.1314
Jackson S. 2018. Building trust and establishing legitimacy across scientific, water management and Indigenous cultures. Australasian Journal of Water Resources, DOI: 10.1080/13241583.2018.1505994
The research is being led by Professor Sue Jackson from Griffith University. Professor Jackson is being assisted by researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University.
Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation, Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation, Jaru Claimant Group, Kija Claimant Group, Tiya-Tiya Aboriginal Corporation, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation, Warrwa Claimant Group, Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation and Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation/Yi-Martuwarra are collaborators in this research.
This project is due for completion in June 2021.
Sue Jackson, Griffith University