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Indigenous water knowledge the focus of a new industry scholarship

A new scholarship is creating opportunities for emerging Indigenous leaders to share knowledge about sustainable water management practices.

This year’s recipients of the Emerging Indigenous Water Leaders (EIWL) scholarship, announced at a special awards ceremony this week, include Jaymee Woods and Taylor Hayward, both from Water Corporation in Western Australia.

The EIWL scholarship was started to facilitate more integration between Indigenous and contemporary water management practices.

Woods, a hydrography trainee, said she was looking forward to helping others appreciate Indigenous cultural knowledge.

“I’m excited to share my connection to my country and how I’ve observed the slow degradation of our waterways, and how that impacts our ability to continue traditional cultural practices,” she said.

“I hope one day Aboriginal people can be involved in the conversation from the beginning, and that this scholarship can help develop the conversation within the water industry in this regard at a national level.”

Remote Aboriginal Communities Senior Advisor Taylor Hayward echoed these thoughts, saying he plans to use this opportunity to create change within the community by developing methodologies for providing services in remote Aboriginal communities.

“I’m hoping my research topic is the catalyst for a community-centric delivery methodology to become an appreciated and adopted practice and result in increases to community agency and self-determination,” he said.

Water Corporation CEO Pat Donovan said this was an opportunity to reframe how the utility approaches water management. He said he was looking forward to lending support for applying Indigenous knowledge at a national and international level.

“This scholarship aligns with global efforts to draw Indigenous water-related cultural knowledge and thinking with contemporary water management systems,” he said.

“The water industry as we know it today is very well established, but it’s important we recognised that Indigenous people throughout the world have been sustainably managing natural resources for tens of thousands of years, and that we have a lot to learn.”

As recipients of the EIWL scholarship, Woods and Hayward will have access to industry mentors, as well as funds to attend conferences and present at national and international events.

The EIWL scholarship is supported by Water Corporation, the International Water Association Australia (IWAA) and the Australian Water Association.