In the heart of NSW, where rivers weave stories of time and tradition, the rights of Indigenous communities to their ancestral waters are facing unprecedented challenges.
And while the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) stands as a beacon, emphasising the inalienable rights of these communities to their natural resources… on the ground, the realisation of these rights remains, at times, elusive.
Which is why I emailed Minister Rose Jackson, urging her to champion the cause of Aboriginal water rights in NSW in alignment with the principles enshrined in UNDRIP.
Letter to NSW Labor Minister for Water, The Hon. Rose JACKSON | Aboriginal Water Rights
Dear Minister Jackson,
I am reaching out to express my deep concern regarding the ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities in our state, particularly in the realms of reconciliation and their involvement in water-based initiatives.
And my decision to write to you has been largely influenced by the Reflections Holiday Park Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and the recent shifts in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Upon reviewing the Reflections Holiday Park RAP, I was met with a sense of disappointment.
While it is commendable that organisations are taking small steps towards reconciliation, this particular plan feels more symbolic than substantive. Furthermore, my apprehension is especially heightened when considering the need for a business case to legitimise the employment or partnership with Indigenous entities… and such an approach seems to undermine the intrinsic value and historical significance of Indigenous communities in favour of pure business calculus.
Adding to the above, I was also disheartened by the recent inter-government agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and while there is much debate on the distribution and management of these vital waters, the absence of provisions for First Nations in the agreement is deeply concerning. As outlined in a piece from The Conversation, this latest deal seems to be another instance where Indigenous interests have been sidelined, despite their millennia of custodianship over these waters.
Now, it is not merely enough to point out the flaws; constructive solutions are essential.
So I would like to see Reflections Holiday Park actively engage with local Indigenous communities to better understand their needs, aspirations, and cultural nuances.
And if the NSW Labor Government aspires to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) successfully, I advocate for Indigenous operators to take the helm of Indigenous initiatives, especially at places like dams in NSW, because their deep-rooted understanding of the culture and history will undeniably lead to a more culturally sensitive and effective service compared to external entities like Reflections Holiday Park.
Thank you for your attention to these Indigenous rights issues.