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Partnerships with Traditional Owners

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) acknowledges and pays its respect to the Traditional Owners and their Nations of the Murray–Darling Basin. The contributions of earlier generations, including the Elders, who have fought for their rights in natural resource management are also valued and respected.

The MDBA recognises and acknowledges that the Traditional Owners and their Nations within the Murray–Darling Basin, have a deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection to their lands and waters.

The MDBA understands the need for recognition of Traditional Owner knowledge and cultural values in natural resource management associated with the Basin.

The health of the Basin benefits from meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners in the Basin are involved in water planning and management through equitable, inclusive and respectful partnerships.

The MDBA considers partnerships with Basin Traditional Owners to be a key priority across the all areas of water management.

The MDBA engages with Traditional Owners in line with the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the Akwé:Kon Guidelines. These frameworks ensure that Traditional Owners are engaged in an appropriate manner. This includes providing adequate information about the consent process, appropriate time and information.

Empowering Aboriginal voices

The MDBA have partnership agreements with the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN).

They are independent, self-determining, Traditional Owner-based organisations with a primary focus on natural resource management. This makes them invaluable partners in managing water in the Basin.

Murray Lower Darling Aboriginal Nations (MLDRIN)

MLDRIN is a confederation of sovereign First Nations from the southern part of the MurrayDarling Basin. The organisation includes representation from First Nations from as far north as the Macquarie River in Wiradjuri Country, to the Coorong and Lower Lakes on Ngarrindjeri Country in South Australia.

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN)

NBAN was formed in April 2010 and is a confederation of sovereign First Nations from the northern part of the Murray-Darling Basin. The organisation includes representation from First Nations from as far north as Charleville in Gunggari Country to Tamworth in Kamilaroi Country in central New South Wales.

Basin Community Committee

Another formal channel for engagement with the Basin’s Traditional Owners is via the Basin Community Committee which has two Aboriginal committee members and an Indigenous subcommittee, who provide advice on matters relating to Aboriginal interests in the Basin.

The Basin Community Committee provides a community perspective on a wide range of water resource, environmental, cultural and socioeconomic matters. Phil Duncan, a Gomeroi man from the Gwydir region and Sandra Peckham, a Wiradjuri descendant from the Bogan region, are Aboriginal people currently on the Committee.

Interview with Phil Duncan Gwydir Basin Community Committee member

MDBA's Aboriginal engagement network

While there are more formal ways in which the MDBA collaborates with Traditional Owners in the Basin, we acknowledge that this doesn’t always capture all views. Therefore, the MDBA welcomes direct engagement where appropriate.

The following diagram shows how engagement between Aboriginal people and the MDBA typically takes place.

Typical process of engagement between Aboriginal people and the MDBA

Strengthening connections

The Strengthening Connections Plan is our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP is a strategic plan for all staff of the MDBA, aimed at improving relationships, showing respect and increasing opportunities to deliver outcomes for Aboriginal people as a part of our business.

The plan outlines our vision as well as a work program, which is implemented over three years, to contribute to connecting with Aboriginal culture through relationships, respect and opportunities.



Updated: 16 Oct 2019