Senator Thorpe’s negotiations on the Restoring Our Rivers bill delivers $20 million for a Basin-wide Cultural Flows program

Media Release

29 November 2023

MLDRIN welcomes an agreement between Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe
and the Government today, which will see a $20 million cultural flows planning
program delivered in the Murray Darling Basin.

This program underpins efforts towards self-determination and water rights for
Basin First Nations.

An agreement to deliver the funding was reached as part of negotiations over
the Restoring our Rivers Bill.

Whilst the governance arrangements for the funding remain unclear, this
investment is significant compared with past seed funding, which has been
insufficient to roll out this important program for First Nations in the Basin.

Brendan Kennedy, Deputy Chairperson said “Cultural Flows and Cultural Flows
planning by Nations is critical to the health of our people and Country. The
Thorpe-ALP deal delivers what we hope will be the first instalment of funds to
progress self-determined Cultural Flows work by Nations. Self-determination
means priorities are set by us, and that our funds are managed by our Nations,
or our self-determined First Nations’ representative bodies if we prefer. That’s
our choice”.

MLDRIN is currently the only self-determined member-based organisations in
the Basin that has specialized knowledge of, and practical experience in the
application of the Cultural Flows methodology.

The methodology was co-developed by First Nations organisations as part of
the National Cultural Flows Research Project.

Funding for Cultural Flows work has been limited in the past. This has impacted
the ability of Basin Nations to incorporate First Nations’ cultural science within
the established water framework.

Brendan Kennedy, MLDRIN Deputy Chair stated  “The Act is supposed to include the best available
science. That includes our cultural flows’ science.”

A key priority for MLDRIN throughout negotiations on the Restoring Our Rivers
Bill was the inclusion of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights (UNDRIP)
of Indigenous Peoples.

An amendment moved by Senator Thorpe will require future reviews of the
Water Act to consider whether the Act is consistent with the principles of the

Brendan Kennedy, MLDRIN Deputy Chair stated “As a First Nations person, it’s
unfathomable that UNDRIP isn’t already part of Australia’s domestic laws,
including the Water Act.”

Grant Rigney, MLDRIN Chairperson said “On behalf of MLDRIN and our
member Nations, we thank Senator Thorpe for her significant advocacy in
securing Cultural Flows funding and strengthened consideration of First
Nations water rights. This would not have been possible without Senator
Thorpe doing the hard yards for Basin Nations”.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply