Working together on the Millewa Aboriginal Waterways Assessment (NSW)

“The gathering was a powerful chance for neighbouring communities to work together for positive change.”

The Living Murray Indigenous Partnerships Program aims to engage Traditional Owners in the management of icon sites along the Murray, including at Millewa Forest in NSW. Effective and respectful engagement with Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal community members was an essential objective for the success of this project, together with application of the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment (AWA) tool.

In November 2018, around 18 Aboriginal community representatives completed the assessment at Millewa Forest — the first formal AWA undertaken in NSW. Coordinated by MLDRIN, the assessment brought people together to work on Country with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and other state and Australian Government agencies.

The assessment identified a number of values within the forest, including contemporary stories associated with the use of areas and resources, as well as significant Aboriginal heritage sites around key wetlands. The input provided by Aboriginal people will help to inform targeted environmental water delivery to sites which are of ecological and cultural value.

Image: Field team photo at end of Millewa Forest Aboriginal Waterways Assessment (photo by NSW PWS)

Improved health of the Millewa environment using Aboriginal knowledge will increase biodiversity and provide opportunities for sustainable use of cultural resources by Aboriginal people. The collaborative nature of this project will also support future opportunities for Aboriginal people to contribute to the management of Millewa Forest, maintaining connection to Country and Culture.

Feedback from the assessment including from local Elders was very positive, with one reflection that “the gathering was a powerful chance for neighbouring communities to work together for positive change“.