Returning Water

12 October 2023

The State Government is returning water to Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners – strengthening their connection to Country through better cultural water management. 

Minister for Water Harriet Shing announced that Southern Rural Water has issued Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation two licences for cultural water use – one of 200 megalitres at Buchan Munji, as well as 500 megalitres of water for the Tambo River. 

At Buchan Munji, GLaWAC intends to hold the water in an aquifer for cultural purposes and to restore and maintain the health of Country. 

These water licences support Gunaikurnai connections to Country and support GLaWAC to own and manage water for spiritual, cultural, environmental, and social economic purposes.

“Returning water rights to Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners opens a door long closed, restoring the custodial rights to say how, if and when to call on water for Country, and water for mob.” – Daniel Miller, GLaWAC CEO

The Government is working with Traditional Owners to improve their access to water and their involvement in water management, benefiting Traditional Owners and all Victorians through the release of Water is Life: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap

Water Minister, Harriet Shing said “Currently Traditional Owners hold less than 0.2 per cent of all water access entitlements in Victoria and that’s why the Water is Life roadmap is so important – this work has begun but there is still a long way to go as we continue to support the return and management of water to Traditional Owners.”

This builds on a 2,000 megalitre water licence from the Mitchell River in Gippsland to GLaWAC in 2021 for cultural purposes. 

“The return of these licences are a tribute to the Elders who have fought for many years for water justice, and paves the way for strengthened sharing of traditional knowledge, customary practice and a self-determined future.” – Daniel Miller, GLaWAC CEO

Read more about Gunaikurnai water here: