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Utility joins with Indigenous communities to promote water literacy

Hunter Water has collaborated with local Aboriginal communities to develop a unique learning tool aimed at educating children about the value of water.

Launched during National Reconciliation Week, Where’s Our Water? is a free ebook that tells the story of native animals living around the Hunter River, drawing on the knowledge and traditional practices of Indigenous people in caring for land and waterways.

Launching the book recently, New South Wales (NSW) Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the book was a first-of-its-kind resource for the Australian water industry.

“The experiences of the severe drought are still front of mind for many in our communities across NSW and it’s important we continue to teach our younger generation about the finite and precious nature of water,” she said.

Where’s Our Water? is a valuable resource for our kids to learn about water conservation and the role we all have in protecting it now and in the future.”

The book was six months in the making, with Hunter Water working with the University of Newcastle and the Awabakal and Worimi communities to develop the story, along with 10 Indigenous students from Newcastle High School.

The students worked together to devise the concept and storyline over the course of four full-day workshops.

Hunter-based Aboriginal artist Saretta Fielding said it was a privilege to be part of the project and to help bring the story to life.

“I’m particularly proud that the story has been developed in two versions to incorporate the traditional languages of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples, demonstrating the shared value of this resource within our community,” she said.

Hunter Water Education Coordinator Kristy Ratcliffe said Where’s Our Water? had been made widely available on the utility’s website.

“We’ve made this free resource available for everyone in our community so that it can be shared and enjoyed,” she said. 

“It will be a valuable tool for engaging with our local school community. In addition, we plan to produce a range of complementary online learning resources to help spread the water conservation message and raise awareness among our younger generation."

For more information on how water utilities are collaborating with Indigenous communities, don't miss the 'Diversity, inclusion and equity' stream on Day 8 (25 June) of Ozwater'20 Online.