Water Rights

Goal 1 of the NSWALC Strategic Plan (Secure Our Land and Water Rights) commits NSWALC to maximise the amount of water that is in Aboriginal ownership, control, and management, and the social, cultural and economic outcomes of water.

To achieve this, NSWALC continues to build support for legislative and policy reforms to recognise and support Aboriginal water rights.


On the 16th September 2021 The NSW Government released the first ever NSW Water Strategy. The Strategy is a 20 year plan for NSW looking at smart, innovative solutions to ensure our water supply is safe, reliable and sustainable, now and for future generations. The Strategy more specifically looks at strengthening the role of Aboriginal people in water management and in partnership develop the first NSW Aboriginal Water Strategy.

NSWALC’s advocacy aimed to ensure the NSW Water Strategy provides an important framework for governments to work in partnership with Aboriginal people maintain distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationships with water, and advance Aboriginal people’s rights and interests in water.

NSWALC will continue to advocate for the development and implementation of an Aboriginal Water Strategy that delivers social, cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people.

NSWALC Submission to the NSW Parliament Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting

The Select Committee on Floodplain Harvesting inquired into the Government’s management of floodplain harvesting, in particular the legality of harvesting practices, the water regulations published in April 2021 and how floodplain harvesting can be licensed, regulated, metered and monitored so that it is sustainable meets the objectives of relevant legislation and plans.

NSWALC provided a submission highlighting risks associated with increasing large scale water harvesting, including impacts on:

  • Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • Aboriginal fishers
  • Downstream water users and town water supplies, reduced water quality and negative environmental impacts.

NSWALC advocated for better engagement with Aboriginal communities, greater alignment of policies to delivering social, cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and for the NSW Government to work with NSWALC and LALCs to improve Aboriginal peoples access to water and floodplain harvesting licences.

Engagement with Governments

NSWALC will continue to advocate for water ownership and rights for LALC’s and Aboriginal peoples and communities in NSW.

NSWALC will continue to work on the following initiatives:

  • Closing the Gap
  • Draft Greater Sydney Water Strategy consultation
  • Connectivity Stakeholder Reference Group
  • Reconnecting River Country
  • Water Recourse Plans
  • Water Sharing Plans
  • Regional Water Strategies
  • Water and Sewerage Infrastructure Programs

Water is Life

For First Nations People, water is life and we are its caretakers. Aboriginal people have always cared for and continue to nurture our waterways and use water to sustain our social, cultural and economical wellbeing.

NSWALC, LALCs and Aboriginal people have long called for improved water management and involvement of Aboriginal people in water governance. It is unacceptable that Aboriginal communities in NSW do not have access to clean, safe drinking water, or access to their rivers, lakes and cultural sites.

Water is Life is a six-part video series exploring the importance of Aboriginal people's connection to water in the campaign to push for ongoing water rights, cultural connections and use of the waterways, to provide for healthy communities.