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New video series to promote Indigenous water knowledge

A new video series aims to promote understanding of Indigenous water issues and perspectives in the Northern Territory (NT).

The Australian Water Association (AWA), in partnership with the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), funded the first film in a series called Talking Water. The video features stories from Indigenous communities about past and present relationships with water, along with a vision for the future.

Driven by AWA NT Branch President and Power and Water Corporation Remote Planning Program Manager Eric Vanweydeveld, the goal of the series is to capture and promote Indigenous water knowledge.

“The overall aim is to raise awareness of Indigenous water perspectives and drive engagement and participation. But it’s also about more than that,” Vanweydeveld said. 

“I wanted to capture Indigenous Australians' water stories, to give them a voice and an opportunity to explain what they're feeling and how they see things, because it's usually an external body pushing things on their behalf, but we never hear from them. That was the motivation."

Interested in Indigenous water management? Don’t miss the Indigenous engagement stream on Day 8 of Ozwater’20 Online

Vanweydeveld, who will be sharing his experience working with a remote community on Day 1 of Ozwater'20 Online, said the video also helps highlight Indigenous perspectives on how water and land is being managed. 

“Not many people are exposed to remote Australia and remote communities. We don't always know what's happening unless the government tells the story,” he said. 

Vanweydeveld said Western land management and water practices fail to take account of Indigenous cultural rights

“Water is linked to the land and the land is linked to water, and this is very important. This forms a rich and significant matrix of people, social, economic and spiritual connections with Country,” he said.

“Land management, farming, agriculture, development of roads and mining – all of these things are having an impact and Indigenous people are feeling under attack.

“Our society doesn't always understand the strong links between land, water and culture. We tend to deal with issues by isolating or disconnecting systems, but in their view, everything's connected and needs to be managed holistically. And water is the link because water flows across and connects humans to nature.”

A broader conversation

With the launch of the series hoped to encourage conversations about Indigenous water and land management, Vanweydeveld said he would like to see the videos that reflect Indigenous perspectives from other states and territories.

“It would be great to create some momentum and discussion about Indigenous involvement in water and land management,” he said. 

“It’s important to showcase different parts of Australia. I didn’t want to produce a movie and say, ‘look here, some pretty landscape with people talking about it’. 

“The film is a first step to create broader discussion. I hope it encourages people to think about how to integrate Aboriginal knowledge into the water planning process to deal with today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and, more specifically, the adaptation to climate change.”

Watch the video: