Developing pathways to improve Aboriginal environmental outcomes with water for the environment

Jane and Tristan, Workshop One. Photo: Colleen Hughson

“…inner deep listening to, and quiet, still awareness of each other, we learn and grow together…”

Aboriginal Elder Judy Atkinson
(Atkinson, 2002, p. 19)

Our project objectives were to

  • Improve engagement skills with Aboriginal and Torres Straight communities.
  • Continue our personal journeys of reconciliation.
  • Build confidence in professional capacity, build networks around Aboriginal engagement and natural resource management along the Murray River system.
Tristan and Jane really hit it off! Photo: Colleen Hughson
Active listening exercise. Photo: Jan Barton
Looking out over Tower Hill on our Workshop One Field Trip. Photo: Siwan Lovett

Twinning Actions

  • Discuss and review Aboriginal engagement and co-design approaches
  • Interviews with project partners aimed at understand barriers and opportunities to improve Aboriginal environmental outcomes with water from the environment
  • Network mapping and utilisation to understand the complexity of ewatering
Learning more about aboriginal connections at Warrnambool. Photo: Jan Barton
Telling a story all about the Convo Fairy. Photo: Siwan Lovett
Moving online and making mentoring work. Photo: Jane Walker

Twinning Project Outcomes

  • An overarching framework to develop pathways to improving Aboriginal environmental outcomes along the Murray River System with e-water planning and delivery at different scales (see diagram)
  • A fundamental understanding of the power of deeper listening and growth through collaboration
  • Enduring friendships and community

The framework developed by Tristan and Jane provides a path that people can work through together to ensure that Aboriginal voices are heard, their knowledge incorporated into decision making, and environmental and cultural outcomes can be attained.

Cross-cutting themes:

Communication: back to community, between organisations
(re) Connection to Country: social and economic outcomes
Free, Prior and informed consent: including IP

Tristan and Jane’s video explains the journey they went on to develop the framework and how they are now applying it to their work.

“Seeing Tristan’s confidence grow in his ability to engage more broadly with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Organisations around water for the environment has been the highlight of the program.

He embraced all the discussion, questions and challenges given to him this year – his thinking and action around engagement and co-design can only result in stronger networks and collaborations going forward.”

– Jane

“Jane was such an amazing mentor – both supporting, challenging and now a good friend, I’m so luck to have access to her and the rest of the Twinning team throughout this crazy year.”

– Tristan

The Waterway Management Twinning Program is a structured mentoring program, focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of current Victorian riparian restoration projects. This Program provides an opportunity for the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.