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First Nations @ Ozwater'24

Ozwater'24 will spotlight First Nations people and their role in sustainable water management across the three day program.

Through thought-provoking sessions, interactive workshops, and insightful presentations, we aim to highlight the crucial role of partnership when managing water with first Nations communities. Ozwater’24 is a platform for sharing experiences from engaging with First Nations communities on water-related challenges and a place to reflect on the importance of integrating traditional knowledge and science from First Nations communities into water management practices. 

By amplifying voices and experiences, we work to contribute to a more inclusive and effective approach to addressing water issues while respecting the unique perspectives and contributions of First Nations peoples.

Welcome to Country

Wominjeka yearmann koondee biik Wurundjeri balluk - Welcome to the land of the Wurundjeri people 

We will extend a warm welcome to all by acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land Welcome to Country ceremony by the Wurundjeri people, along with a smoking ceremony, a traditional Aboriginal custom which involves burning native plants just enough to produce smoke. The smoke will cleanse the area is regarded as an important part of connecting people to the country and keeping them safe from the dangerous powers of the spiritual beings residing in the land and waters. 

Technical Program Highlights

Day 1 - Tuesday 30 April
Partnering and implementation for self determination

  • Water is Life - The “how” of the Implementation Strategy  
    • DEECA 

  • Addressing the gap: Supporting environmental values through partnership with Wurundjeri Woiwurrung
    • Natalie Hackett, Yarra Valley Water

  • The journey to understand and champion First Nations knowledge and approaches
    • Julia Stanley & Kiri Tawhai, Barwon Water & Corrina Eccles, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

  • Sustainable water and sewer services for Indigenous communities
    • Stephen Martin, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council

  • How can we learn from the power sector in remote Indigenous homelands service delivery
    • Skye Haigh, Ekistica

  • Volunteers enabling industry capability growth for water corporations using a public and private partnering model
    • Angela Kelly, AECOM & Melissa Barras, Coliban Water

  • Sydney Water's adaptive strategy to restore confidence in Walgett drinking water supply
    • Giyan Dharmadasa & James Gourley, Sydney Water


Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May
Incorporating First Nations science

  • Indigenous-led youth outreach using real-world community water engineering challenges
    • Josh MacLeod, Engineers Without Borders

  • Understanding how we can improve the incorporation of First Nations knowledge into technical water projects
    • Jamie Kaye, Water Technology

  • Two-way science - partnering with schools in the Apy lands to discover and share water stories
    • Jade Cornish, SA Water & Patrick Naughtin, Atria Group

  • Restoring urban billabongs in partnership with Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung traditional owners
    • Rephael Lankri, Wurundjeri
Advancing First Nations procurement through the 3Cs of supplier diversity
  • Presented by Arup & iDiC
  • 3:50pm - 5:20pm

Join Arup and iDiC for an insightful workshop on First Nations Procurement.   
Delve into the 3 C's of supplier diversity: Competitive Advantage, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Compliance. Discover how buying from Indigenous businesses offers a competitive edge, aligns with CSR goals, and meets policy obligations. Explore challenges and barriers faced by First Nations businesses, providing strategies to overcome them. Learn valuable solutions for engaging with First Nations businesses and explore real-world case studies.  


Day 3 - Thursday 2 May
Morning - Learnings on engagement with First Nation communities on water issues

The objective of this session is to share experiences and learnings from governments and water utilities on their experience in engagement with First Nations communities on water issues.  

Panellists are invited to talk about a specific project they have delivered in partnership with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, and share how they went about planning and conducting engagement and consultation.  They would be invited to reflect on what was learned from the process and how this engagement shaped the outcome.  Join the facilitator in drawing out principles for engagement and practical advice, based on expertise as well as learning shared by the participants.  First Nations audience members will be invited to share any experiences or reflections on water-related consultations they have been involved with.   

Afternoon - Water is life - An open discussion

Water Is Life followed a truly collaborative approach and was co-designed with buy-in by all involved. What did we learn? Through open discussion, this is an opportunity to hear from those involved in the process and share any learnings from other projects. Together we will reflect and discuss challenges encountered with Water Is Life as a proof-point initiative, learn about its impact and similar initiatives. 
Full details to come.