The work for this project was conducted while I was a research fellow at the Australian Rivers Institute of Griffith University, on a project funded by the National Environmental Science Program and supported by the Kimberley Land Council.

Between 2017 and 2022 I worked with Traditional Owner groups, National Environmental Science Program scientists and water planners from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation of Western Australia, at the interface of Indigenous and government water planning frameworks in the Martuwarra-Fitzroy River catchment, in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.

My collaborators included Prof. Sue Jackson and senior Traditional Owners from Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation, Yanuninjarra Aboriginal Corporations, Bunuba-Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation and Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation, as well as others. We worked collaboratively to produce outputs articulating the relationships between Traditional Owners and the water places in their Countries, and their relevance for water governance and policy in Western Australia.

We produced a variety of outputs. For example, with Gooniyandi elder and artist Mervyn Street, we made a short film articulating the significance of the River to Kimberley Aboriginal people, as seen through his eyes. The film is called Veins of the Country and we made it public, you can watch it below.

With Nyikina senior women Annie Milgin, Linda Nardea and Hilda Gray we produced a Nyikina seasonal calendar and ecological framework. A low resolution version of this work may be found here on the NESP website, and for high resolution or use, you may contact Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation as the copyright holder. We then worked together with the Jarlmadangah Burru community and mural artist Mel McVee, to produce a representation of the calendar on a water tank in Jarlmadangah.

We also produced a series of academic articles and policy briefs, to be found summarised and cited in this project report. A visual summary of one of the articles, called “Living Waters or Resource: Ontological differences and the governance of water and rivers” and co-authored with Prof. Sue Jackson may be found as a blog post on the Global Water Forum website, and below in the form of a storymap:

For more information on this collaborative project and its relevance to ongoing water governance negotiations in Western Australia, please have a look at the project report.