Aboriginal Waterways Assessment Assignment
This 1500 word assignment is a unique opportunity to provide your research and critical thinking as a resource for an Indigenous organisation. Selected assignments will, with your permission, be forwarded to the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) for their consideration. (MLDRIN) is a confederation of Indigenous Nations or Traditional Owners in the lower southern part of the Murray‐Darling Basin.
Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN)
MLDRIN ’…is a confederation of Indigenous Nations or traditional owners in the lower southern part of the Murray Darling Basin.’ (MLDRIN website, www.mldrin.org.au).
Mainstream NRM utilises assessment processes to consider the health and describe the ecological character of Country. These assessments then form the basis for future management directions. The privileging of Western scientific knowledge in the development and implementation of these assessment processes can therefore act to further colonise Indigenous groups and create obstacles to Care as Country.
Some Indigenous groups are developing assessment processes framed by their own worldviews and others are working with non‐Indigenous practitioners to negotiate the integration of their own worldviews into mainstream NRM assessment processes. This complex process has significant challenges, risks and opportunities.
The aim of this assignment is to develop a constructive critique of the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment (AWA) tool that MLDRIN are currently developing in collaboration with the Murray‐Darling Basin Authority. Your assignment will provide research and recommendations to MLDRIN to help inform their future engagement with the tool.
The AWA is a tool that aims to:
‘consistently measure and prioritise river and wetland health so that Traditional Owners can more effectively participate in water planning and management in the Basin.’ (MDBA 2015, page 6)
This assignment requires you to provide research insight to MLDRIN about similar initiatives in Australia or overseas that you think may provide some relevant insights or lessons about the AWA.
You need to choose one case study to consider. The case study will be about an Indigenous group that is engaging with NRM practitioners to develop mechanisms of measuring cultural and ecological values for sites.
This may be termed ‘cultural indicators’ or something similar. There are many examples of these projects around Australia and overseas.
The Maori Cultural Health Index is something that you will be expected to be familiar with, but you cannot choose that as your case study.
Once you have chosen your case study, your assignment needs to address the following structure:
1. Summarise your case study (300 words)

This section should summarise your case study and consider who is involved, how it was developed, what it aims to do and the mechanisms it uses to achieve this. If appropriate, it would be good to include the key outcomes of the project to date and some discussion about the benefits or risks that have accrued to the Indigenous group engaged in the project.

2. Identify the key factors relevant to a consideration of the AWA (600 words) This section should summarise the key factors of your case study that are worthy for consideration with respect to the AWA. It may include:

• What factors have contributed to the success of your case study?
• What are the key benefits to the Indigenous group?

• How is your case study embedded institutionally? How does it function in
practice? For example, if in Australia has the case study and its inputs been
incorporated into the State or Territory’s policy or legislation?

• What have been the limitations of your case study?

• What are the key lessons of your case study?

• How does the land rights/treaty rights/sovereignty/land tenure of your group
affect their ability to negotiate the benefits of the project?

3. How do your key factors relate to the implementation of the AWA in Australia? (600 words)
This section will link your case study research to the AWA tool in Australia. It needs to highlight what lessons can be learnt from your case study and provide recommendations to MLDRIN about future development of the AWA tool.
Your assignment must include a minimum of five peer reviewed references.

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