Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Event Date



Presenter: Phil Duncan, Gomeroi Nation, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council

15 pages

Contains footnotes

"OPTIONS PAPER for the First Peoples' Water Engagement Council (FPWEC)"

"DATED 20 APRIL 2012"

Abstract: This paper highlights the options for a path forward to establish an Indigenous Economic Water Fund (IEWF) through acquisition of water entitlements1 by indigenous people in systems where the consumptive pool is fully allocated. The water allocation that comes from indigenous holdings in the consumptive pool is an important mechanism for enabling Indigenous communities to achieve economic development and as such is a legitimate strategy for ‘Closing the Gap’. The proposed path forward requires action and support from indigenous people:

  • establish a body to champion the IEWF strategy and hold water entitlements;
  • develop a strategy based on governing principles of defining the gap to be closed and relate it to key elements of water entitlements i.e. location, volume, purpose and control; and
  • do the feasibility

- identify currently held water entitlements and desired water entitlements

- gather support (lobbying government etc);

- facilitate appropriate governance around holding water entitlements;

- consider acquisition of water entitlements options to deliver water allocation; and

- identify necessary management and infrastructure capacity to facilitate management of, access to and use of water allocation by indigenous Australians.


Tony McLeod


Indigenous peoples throughout the world face diverse and often formidable challenges of what might be termed “water justice.” On one hand, these challenges involve issues of distributional justice that concern Indigenous communities’ relative abilities to access and use water for self-determined purposes. On the other hand, issues of procedural justice are frequently associated with water allocation and management, encompassing fundamental matters like representation within governance entities and participation in decision-making processes. Yet another realm of water justice in which disputes are commonplace relates to the persistence of, and respect afforded to, Indigenous communities’ cultural traditions and values surrounding water—more specifically, the degree of recognition and solicitude given them in distributional rules, governance entities, decision-making processes, etc. These three dimensions of water justice find support in numerous domestic and international sources, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Hosted by the University of Colorado Law School on Monday, June 6 in Boulder, Colorado, the Indigenous Water Justice (IWJ) Symposium has been convened to address water justice-related challenges facing Australian Aboriginal communities within the Murray-Darling Basin, Canadian First Nations within the Columbia River Basin, and Native American Tribes within the Colorado and Columbia River Basins. The symposium will consist of three basin panels followed by an end-of-day synthesis panel. It will be bookended by a keynote address from Professor Charles Wilkinson during the morning, and a dinner reception hosted by the Native American Rights Fund. The symposium is an invitation-only event envisioned as an incubator for future actions and collaborations. The roughly 45 participants hail from nearly 20 Indigenous communities and organizations and faculties of approximately 15 academic institutions in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States, as well as governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. Our core purpose is to foster dialogue and relationships aimed at promoting legal and policy reforms to achieve positive social change.

Murray-Darling Basin Session.

Alternate Title

Murray-Darling Basin Session