Cultural flows management plan

Margooya Lagoon is a permanent wetland on the Murray River floodplain near Robinvale in the state of Victoria. It is part of a cultural land and waterscape also known as Tol Tol to Tati Tati, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country.

As a consequence of historic river regulation in the Murray River, natural flooding and drying regimes of the Murray River floodplains have been disrupted. At Margooya Lagoon, the Lock
13 Weir at Euston inhibits drying at this section of the floodplain. Upstream river regulation means seasonal flooding from overbank flows occurs less frequently than under natural conditions. In recent years, the Margooya Lagoon watering regime has been managed principally by way of a regulator to constrain natural flooding at the northern end of the Lagoon.

Tati Tati have undertaken Aboriginal Waterway Assessments (AWA) at the site. AWA is a tool which helps Traditional Owners assess the cultural health of their Country and set priorities for environmental water delivery. At Margooya, AWAs have informed a biodiversity and cultural plan for the site. That plan includes water, heritage and land management actions consistent with a ‘relational’ model of management of Country.

Presently, there are no formal cooperative management arrangements for Margooya Lagoon. No formal environmental watering was undertaken for the site in 2019/20. Environmental
watering is planned for the 2020/21 season. Public land management laws and policies do not expressly refer to, or incorporate, cooperative arrangements with Tati Tati.

Cultural Flows are a model of integrated land and resource assessment, planning and management developed by the Murray and Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (‘MLDRIN’). The Cultural Flows model proposes a unique assessment model that
synthesises scientific and Aboriginal cultural knowledge. Building on that base, Cultural Flows function as a ‘package’ of legal and policy measures, each directed to achieving objectives set out under the assessment and planning program.

This report summarises key legal and policy matters requiring consideration of a Cultural Flows program for Margooya Lagoon.

The report then summarises the main features of the Cultural Flows model and concept.

Finally, the report proposes three sets of ‘strategic opportunities’ relevant to using law and policy to advance Cultural Flows at Margooya Lagoon and to achieve revitalisation of Country and connection to Country on this part of the Murray River floodplain.