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First Nations partnership and engagement at Ozwater’24

As the water community continues to partner with First Nations organisations and communities on a range of water issues and challenges, best-practice examples of incorporating First Nations science into solutions planning and management are blossoming across the sector.

Keynote speaker Corey Tutt (Founder of DeadlyScience) delivered the keynote address this morning discussing his life and career as a proud First Nations man in STEM. Corey asked audiences to better include First Nations people in the water sector including providing pathways for Indigenous youth to facilitate strong careers in STEM fields.

Still yet to confirm your schedule for day two and three of Ozwater’24? Be sure to include one of the inspiring presentations from the Incorporating First Nations Science stream on day two, or a workshop or panel session on day three.

Day 2: Incorporating First Nations Science stream

Engineers Without Borders’ Josh MacLeod will be kicking off the steam with a discussion of an Indigenous-led youth outreach program designed to encourage youth to engage with water engineering challenges within their communities.

Speaking to Water Source ahead of Ozwater’24, MacLeod said the new initiative envisions a world where First Nations engineers not only have a voice at the table, but are also designing solutions for their own communities.

“Within the STEM field more broadly, but within the engineering sector specifically, there is a huge deficit of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander engineers and professionals. There is a small network of us. It’s small enough that we all know one another,” he said.

“We want to be present in the room for all of the conversations, particularly around water. It’s critical for our human needs, but it is also culturally significant for a lot of our Indigenous communities.

“We are engaging with Indigenous youth on Country to show them that engineering is something that they have always already been doing, and that it is absolutely possible for them to pursue it as a career.”

Water Technology’s Jamie Kaye will be presenting on how the water community can improve the incorporation of First Nations knowledge into technical water projects.

Kaye is set to discuss recent collaborative research and engagement undertaken on how government, research organisations and the water community can champion the integration of First Nations water and land management knowledge and practices within typical approaches used in the water sector.

Next up, Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Culture Heritage Aboriginal Corporation’s Raphael Kanki will be joined by Dr. Joe Greet from the University of Melbourne to discuss a partnership project restoring urban billabongs.

SA Water’s Jade Cornish and Atria Group’s Patrick Naughtin will be presenting on two-way science and partnering with schools in the APY Lands to discover and share water stories.

The presentation will discuss Anangu Water Wisdom, a program based on a two-way science philosophy that embraces both western science and Traditional Knowledge together to promote water literacy in the community.

Day 3: First Nations engagement and co-design

On day three of Ozwater’24, the morning panel session ‘Learnings on engagement with First Nations communities on water issues’ will explore learnings from governments and water utilities on their experience in engagement with First Nations communities.

The panel will feature DCCEEW Director Engagement, Culture and Strategic Operations (First Nations Water Branch) Brandon Etto, University of Canberra Galambany Professorial Fellow Professor Phil Duncan, and Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council Water and Waste Reform Coordinator Stephen Martin.

In the afternoon, the workshop ‘Water is life: co-design and development strategy and how to plan for implementation’ will be facilitated by Melbourne Water Traditional Owner Relationship Manager Rhys Collins and is set to discuss the Water is Life: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap.

This workshop session will explore stories and the impacts policy development within Victoria has had on a selection of Traditional Owners in recent times.