NSW Aboriginal Land Council Submission to the NSW Water Strategy

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) welcomes priority 2 of the Strategy to recognise Aboriginal rights and values, and increase access to and ownership of water for cultural and economic purposes. This is a positive starting point. We look forward to working in partnership with the NSW Government to further develop and implement actions to support this priority in line with Aboriginal people’s rights, interests and aspirations.

We broadly support the intent of priority 1 (building commuity confidence and capacity through engagement, transparency and accountabity) and priority 3 (improve river, floodplain and aquifer ecosystem health, and ecosystem connectivity); however some further work is needed to ensure Aboriginal people’s rights and interests are actively addressed and incorporated.

We note priorities to increase resilience (priority 4), support economic growth (priority 5), support towns and cities (priority 6), and ensure a future focused water sector (priorty 7). We would like to see futher work undertaken in partnership with us and the Aboriginal Water Coalition (AWC) to ensure all priorities and actions take into account and are aligned to delivering social, cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people. We seek to ensure that actions under these priorities do not detrimentally affect Aboriginal people’s rights and interests, for example, infrastructure proposals that may impact Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Overall, working to achieve Aboriginal outcomes must be a focus of all NSW water initiatives. There are opportunities to improve the draft Strategy to ensure stronger action and alignment by government to deliver social, cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people. We look forward to working with the NSW Government and our AWC partners to ensure the NSW Water Strategy advances these goals.