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VIC Technical Event. Legal status for waterways: where are we headed?

Icon of a calendar 29 Jun, 2023 | Small clock icon 5.30pm-8.00pm | Icon of a map pin Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands VIC

*** SOLD OUT***

This seminar will explore the Victorian Government’s policy to recognise waterways as living entities in law and its potential impact on water management in Victoria.

Work is currently being undertaken by the Victorian Government that will lead to engagement over the next few years with Traditional Owners and the water sector to develop legislative proposals to recognise Victorian waterways as living entities. This could lead to a wider application of the type of legislation that has been implemented to recognise the Birrarung (Yarra River) as a living entity; legislation that recognises the intrinsic connection of Traditional Owners and their role as custodians of the Birrarung land and water, and requires, as a principle, an environmental net gain for any project on Yarra River Land.

The water sector needs to prepare for these discussions by understanding the potential legal mechanisms for giving legal status to nature and the potential impacts for water management of changing the legal status of waterways.

Join us for a lively discussion on the issues at stake and hear from those involved in the process.

Event Details

Date Thursday 29 June 2023 
Venue Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands VIC
Time 5.30pm - 8.00pm 
Welcome to Country, Wurundjeri Elder
We are honored to announce that the Welcome to Country will be performed by members of the Wurundjeri people, the traditional custodians of the land on which this event takes place. The Wurundjeri have a deep connection to this land, spanning thousands of years, and their cultural heritage and wisdom are of immense value.  Wurundjeri will share their deep spiritual connection to the land, their ancestors, and the natural environment. 
Professor Freya Mathews, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Philosophy at Latrobe University

Freya Mathews is an environmental philosopher and author of several books and almost a hundred articles and essays on ecological philosophy. Freya is featured in the AWA’s Merri Creek Women’s Walk which acknowledges the contribution of women to conservation and regeneration of the Merri Creek (see here).  Freya also co-manages a private conservation estate and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Dr Erin O’Donnell, Senior Lecturer and ARC Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School.
Erin is a water law and policy expert recognized internationally for her research into legal rights for rivers. Her work explores the challenges and opportunities these new rights create for protecting the multiple social, cultural and natural values of rivers.  Since 2018, Erin has been a member of the Birrarung Council, the voice of the Yarra River in Melbourne.  In 2023, Erin commenced an ARC-funded research fellowship to explore the opportunity of treaty to address aqua nullius, increase Traditional Owner power and resources in water, and create more sustainable and legitimate settler state water laws.


Event Registration

Member $45

Non-Member $65

Concession $25


Thanks to the Event Sponsors

Please contact Natasha Sharrock Member Engagement Manager - Victoria, with any queries in relation to this event on

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