Oral Presentation International Conference on River Connectivity (Fish Passage 2018)

Indigenous Engagement & Inclusion In Fish Passageway Initiatives (#1)

Phil Duncan 1
  1. Australian Freshwater Science Society, Pagewood, NSW, Australia

Over these millennia Indigenous people of Australia have sustainably managed their lands, waters and natural resources for the health of their Countries and their peoples. Our traditional ecological knowledge, like our stories, are passed down from generation to generation and continue up until this day. This allowed us to live in a symbiotic relationship with the land and water. We used it, we lived from it, we nurtured it. Our use was sustainable, and continues so today, where it can.

It is through the survival of, our stories such as this, our culture, and our traditional ecological knowledge, that my people have been able live in the driest inhabited continent on earth for tens of thousands of years, or since our Dream Time.

Phil’s presentation is about showcasing the need to include Indigenous peoples in the management of our freshwater environments to ensure the long term sustainability of fish populations, aquatic habitats and the protection of sites that have significant cultural heritage relevance to Indigenous peoples. The case study highlighted in my presentation is related to the construction of a fish ladder for fish migration on the Brewarrina weir and the significant need to ensure the consultation process with the Traditional Owners, the Ngemba people, the Brewarinna Local Aboriginal Land Council and the range of key stakeholder groups, are carried out in an inclusive manner that is also culturally appropriate. It also highlights how the project management group negotiated the pathway to ensuring that the Ngunnhu were not impacted on and the construction of the fish ladder was designed around keeping the Ngunnhu working for cultural education and tourism.

Working with Indigenous people and engaging them affords them the opportunity to be involved in carrying out their responsibility to care for their country.