First Nations and Water


The non-Aboriginal view of water in Australia is one of water planning, allocation, management and use.  This approach makes little sense to our First Nations Peoples given the importance placed on water in culture, spirit, survival, and the past present and future.  Water as a commodity is now entrenched in Australian law through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the water legislation of the various State jurisdictions.  Aboriginal People have over 60,000 years of knowledge and understanding of water in Australia and their science and practice around water is worth exploring.  The lecture will work through a general understanding of First Nations Cultures as they apply to water and end with the personal understanding and experience of one of our Nations in the Murray Darling Basin


The lecture will be presented by Adjunct Associate Professor Paul McDonald and Kooma Man, Ross Mitchell. 

Paul has a background as a licensed surveyor and long term practitioner in natural resource management, business development and management, environmental planning, catchment management, strategic leadership, community engagement and entrepreneurship developed over his 38 year professional career.  He is the inaugural Chief Executive of Southern Queensland Landscapes (one of 54 natural resource management groups in Australia).   

Ross is a proud Kooma Man with a strong community background developed over many years in agriculture, health and native title.  He understands the complexities around working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals, as well as with western style institutions and government entities.   He has been given knowledge by his ancestors about country and firmly believes the way forward requires Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures to understand and work together.



Room 314/315, Steele Building (#03). Additionally, this seminar will also be held using the video conferencing software Zoom. If you would like the link, please email