Cultural flows at Margooya Lagoon

For tens of thousands of years, First Nations peoples have cared for Country and kept rivers and waterways healthy and flowing.

But since colonisation, decades of mismanagement, over-extraction and climate change have left the lifeblood of this country polluted, diverted, and dried up.

The state of Australia’s rivers and waterways is not just an environmental crisis – it is an enormous injustice to First Nations people who have cared for Country since time immemorial and who rely on healthy water flowing for healthy people and culture.

First Nations communities along the Murray-Darling Basin have developed a new concept of water management called ‘cultural flows’ that will not only restore life to Country but also justice to First Nations communities.

What are cultural flows?

Cultural flows return water and its rights and management to Traditional Owners to improve the spiritual, cultural, natural, environmental, social and economic conditions of their Nations.

At Margooya Lagoon or Tol Tol, Tati Tati Elders are establishing a model that will identify how to turn the concept of cultural flows into a practical reality.

Their hope is that this model can return healthy flows to Tati Tati Country and also provide a template for other First Nations communities seeking water justice.

Tati Tati Wadi Wadi

"We the Tati Tati Wadi Wadi are the sovereign nation that carry the responsibilities of caring for our Country, including all waterways, landscapes, wildlife, ancestral sites, totemic species, and cultural heritage, as well as language, lore, song, dance, ceremony, and customs.

This is our inherent right as Traditional Owners – our connection to place, land and animals dating back over 2000 generations.

We the Tati Tati Wadi Wadi state we have never ceded sovereignty, nor ever relinquished, given or traded our inherent right to Country and culture to any foreign individuals, parties, or governments.

We are, and will forever be, the rightful people to care for our Country."

Cultural Flows are water rights that we hold in our own name and are not held in trust by Government AND provide us with enough clean water to improve all parts of our lives.

— Tati Tati Wadi Wadi

Margooya Lagoon

"Margooya Lagoon is a culturally significant ancestral place where we go to connect with Country, our ancestors, each other, and with ourselves.

The health of Margooya Lagoon has a direct impact and influence on the health of our people emotionally, spiritually, physically, and culturally.

Maintaining the balance of the ecosystem is of equal ecological and cultural importance as many of these species are central to TTWW traditional practices and cultural values.

We must value equally the environmental features of land, water, trees, and animals with the cultural
knowledge, practices, history, values, and wisdom of Tati Tati Wadi Wadi Traditional Owners.

Because we are so strongly connected to this place, it is essential that our people are central to the monitoring, care, and decision making of all environmental changes and water dependent outcomes that encompass cultural values and benefits on Country.

This is our responsibility, inherited and bestowed upon us by our ancestors past who have cared for Country and culture since time immemorial."

— Tati Tati Wadi Wadi

Hear from Tati Tati Elder, Brendan Kennedy

Read more on making cultural flows a reality

More of EJA's work

Protecting ecosystems

First Nations justice