Research Overview

The research project is divided into 8 components:

Component One

Describe Indigenous cultural values and needs across Australia.

Component one is a desktop research project that will provide a systematic and comprehensive reference of what is currently known about Indigenous uses and values of water. It will look at existing literature from across Australia as well as internationally. An interactive map will provide a user-friendly tool to explore Indigenous water values by location.

Click here to read the Component One literature review.


Component Two

Develop and use methodologies to describe and measure the cultural water uses, values and needs of particular Australian Indigenous communities with a focus on the Murray Darling Basin.

Through participatory research methods, Component two will determine the historical and contemporary cultural uses and values of water in selected case study areas. It will provide an authoritative basis from which to determine quantitative flow requirements, and develop indicators and baselines for measuring the wellbeing, health, cultural and economic impacts of cultural flows.

Click here to read about progress made on Component Two. 


Component Three

Quantify water volumes to meet cultural values and needs and scientific assessment of trial flows.

Component three will be undertaken alongside component two in the selected case study areas. This research will quantify the volumes, flow and timing of water required to meet the identified water uses and values. Researchers will work with Aboriginal communities, scientific experts and water agencies to develop modelling methodologies and watering strategies that can act as a rigorous evidence base for potential future cultural flow needs assessments. This component will involve both modelled and on-ground cultural flow trials.

Click here to read about progress made on Component Three. 


Component Four

Develop and implement a monitoring methodology of the ecological and socio-economic, health and wellbeing outcomes of Cultural Flows and analyse how they compare with environmental flow outcomes.

Component four will build on the previous components to develop a framework for assessing what impacts cultural flows are having on the spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic objectives determined by the Aboriginal communities in the case study areas. It will look across this suite of outcomes and identify where multiple benefits are being gained, including identifying links between cultural and environmental flows. A baseline assessment and plan for future monitoring will be developed.

Click here to read about progress made on Component Four. 


Component Five

Recommend policy, legal and institutional changes that will enable the implementation of Cultural Flows for the economic, social and cultural benefit of Indigenous communities.

Taking the findings from the earlier research efforts, component five will look across the range of relevant policies, legislation and governance arrangements to identify options for institutional changes that will entrench cultural flows in the way water is allocated. This research component will look across national, state and local jurisdictions. Aboriginal people, government agencies and experts will be consulted in the development of options and recommendations.

Click here to read about progress made on Component Five.


Component Six

Build the capacity of Indigenous communities to articulate their water needs and advocate for cultural water allocations for the economic, social and cultural benefit of Indigenous communities

Component six will focus on strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal people and organisations to take an active part in water management and make a strong case for claiming cultural water provisions. Throughout the project, Aboriginal people will be trained in undertaking research, defining cultural water values and uses, and monitoring benefits.

Training will also be provided to ensure that Aboriginal organisations are skilled the necessary governance, policy and legislation arrangements for water planning.

 Click here to read about progress made on Component Six.


Component Seven

Communication: inform Indigenous communities of the process and activities related to the research program

The aim of component seven is to share information about the processes and activities related to the research program, and create an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous communities, government agencies and water planners about the research findings. A communications strategy is being developed by the Research Committee which will be put into operation throughout the course of the project.

Click here to read about progress made on Component Seven.


Component Eight

Secretariat/research coordinator: support the Research Committee in its objectives and provide executive and administration assistance.

Component eight forms the executive and administrative assistance to support the Research Committee in achieving the goals of the project. The secretariat will manage contractors, liaise with the Research Committee and project partners, and ensure all processes and protocols are followed. The secretariat’s primary function is to ensure that the each component of the research program is completed on time, within budget and to a high standard.

 Click here to read about progress made on Component Eight.