Water management and the emergence of treaty-making in Victoria

For a long time, Victorian Aboriginal communities have engaged in debates around water and advocated for their water rights.

In this drought-prone state, crisscrossed by rivers and wetlands, water is hotly contested by irrigators, cities and ecologists.

Unlike other former British colonies, Australian governments made no historical treaties with First Nations communities. That’s about to change, with treaty negotiation processes underway or on the cards across the continent.

In Victoria, treaty-making could have a significant impact on First Nations water rights – with new distributions of power, new relationship frameworks and new goals.

As well as improving the lives of Aboriginal communities and enhancing the laws of Victoria, treaty negotiations have the potential to reshape the distribution of water rights and legally recognise cultural knowledge and cultural assessments in water decisions.

Read more from EJA’s senior specialist lawyer and justice lead, Bruce Lindsay, who delivered a seminar paper on Friday, 17th February 2023.