Trends in Aboriginal Water Ownership in New South Wales, Australia: The Continuities Between Colonial and Neoliberal Forms of Dispossession

Co-hosted with the Institute of International Law and the Humanities

Friday, 29 November
1pm - 2pm

Room 611
Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton

Consistent with broader Indigenous claims for self-determination internationally in norms like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), demand for greater Aboriginal ownership of and control over freshwater has grown immensely over the last twenty-plus years in Australia. Australian governments have at best, however, only offered constrained and limited responses to these demands leaving Aboriginal water justice claims unresolved and Aboriginal advocates and their supporters dissatisfied.

Responding to these community demands, poor government responses and gaps in research, Lana's doctoral research explores Aboriginal struggles for rights to access, use and benefit from freshwater in the context of deep reforms to water governance. In this seminar, Lana presented key findings on the access that Aboriginal organisations have to statutory water use entitlements in the NSW portion of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB).

Specifically, she presented evidence of the past decade of management of water entitlements by Aboriginal people to indicate a new wave of dispossession and to profile the distribution and uses of remaining Aboriginal-held entitlements. Lana’s work has important implications for state and federal policy and law reform processes currently underway in NSW, Victoria, and at the federal level, including recent commitments by state and federal governments to improve Aboriginal water access.

Lana Hartwig Seminar in November 2019


Lana Hartwig, Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute and School of Environment & Science, Queensland