Improving water access for Indigenous people in the Murray–Darling Basin

​​​​The Australian Government is implementing a package of initiatives to support implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

The package includes initiativ​es to improve water access for Indigenous communities in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Focus of initiatives

The initiatives will support access to water resources for Indigenous communities and increase their involvement in water planning and management.

These initiatives recognise that water is central to Indigenous communities and livelihoods in the Basin.

Funding for Indigenous communities to invest in water

The Australian Government will provide $40 million over 4 years to help Indigenous communities invest in water for cultural and economic activities.

Northern Basin and southern Basin Indigenous communities will each receive $20 million funding.

Funding to strengthen Indigenous partnerships

The Australian Government will fund 2 full-time positions for 3 years to support the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN).

The funded employees will work with local Indigenous communities and government agencies to translate the findings of the National Cultural Flows Research Project into practical activities.

Additional funding of $1.5 million will cover costs associated with these activities, including ongoing development of the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment program.

This funding will supplement the existing $635,000 per annum allocated to MLDRIN and NBAN.

Working to identify water entitlements

The Australian Government will work with the NSW and Queensland governments to identify water entitlements in the northern Basin that could be allocated to Indigenous communities.

These entitlements may be made available to support cultural and economic concerns that Indigenous communities identify as important.

For example, Queensland’s Warrego–Paroo–Nebine water resource plan sets aside 900ML of unallocated surface water and 10,000ML of unallocated groundwater for community or Indigenous purposes.

Additional support for Indigenous values, priorities and interests

Additional initiatives include:

  • provisions for the Indigenous Land Corporation to allow its funds to be used to access water entitlements as well as land
  • prioritising Indigenous and local suppliers to deliver environmental works in the northern Basin that have been agreed to as part of toolkit me​asures
  • supporting projects associated with cultural gatherings and low-impact water recreation, including options to refurbish weirs at Wilcannia (NSW) and Cunnamulla (Qld)
  • annual reporting by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority on how Indigenous values and water uses are considered in environmental water use and how Indigenous people are involved in decision‑making
  • increased engagement by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder with Indigenous communities on decisions about the use of environmental water to address Indigenous values.


The Australian Government will work with Basin states and Indigenous stakeholders to deliver initiatives to improve water access for Indigenous communities in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Our Water Division will oversee and report on the delivery of these initiatives.

Learn more about the Murray–Darling Basin Plan 

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.