The connection between Aboriginal people in Geelong and water will be further recognised following the announcement today of the first round of recipients of a new program funded by the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Water and Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville congratulated the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority for receiving a grant under the inaugural Aboriginal Water Grants Program, which supports Aboriginal participation in water management to improve outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

The Labor Government is providing $120,000 to support a local Aboriginal Water Officer to help support the opportunities for Aboriginal values of water in partnership with Traditional Owners and local Aboriginal people.

This statewide program, in partnership with Traditional Owners across Victoria, aims to support spiritual and cultural uses of water, and create employment opportunities for Aboriginal Victorians.

It will also support the self-determination of Traditional Owners by prioritising projects that best meet their needs regarding water management on Country.

The grants support initiatives that enable Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians to work in water management, and understand and promote Aboriginal water values, uses, aims and requirements, including:

  • Recognise Aboriginal values and objectives of water.
  • Include Aboriginal values and traditional ecological knowledge in water planning.
  • Increase the participation of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians in water management.

Grants of up to $200,000 are available for initiatives that seek to identify and use Aboriginal waster values and traditional ecological knowledge, and up to $120,000 for organisations who recruit an Aboriginal water officer.

Aboriginal communities’ connection to Country plays a large part in cultural continuity, with the Victorian waterways playing an important role in their sense of identity.

The Labor Government’s Water For Victoria policy sets out ways to promote water security and protect jobs, agriculture, and the environment and recognise Aboriginal water values.

The Labor Government also introduced legislation that requires all water management to have regard for Aboriginal uses and values of waterways or traditional ecological knowledge in managing these natural assets.

The list of grant recipients for the first round of these grants is available at water.vic.gov.au/aboriginal-values/the-aboriginal-water-program. Future rounds will be announced in due course.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Water and Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville

“Congratulations to the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority – I look forward to seeing the results of this important work.”

“Promoting the wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Geelong by reconnecting them to water for cultural, economic, customary and spiritual practices – it helps keep our community strong.”