Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owners unite for river protection

In response to increasing development pressure, eight Traditional Owner groups from the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin have pledged to work together to protect and manage the rivers, floodplains and groundwaters of the Lake Eyre Basin.

During a two-day meeting in Brisbane, representatives from eight Traditional Owners groups agreed upon a Declaration, aiming to protect the cultural, environmental and economic values of the regions water and country.

The historic declaration identifies 4 key steps that Traditional Owners agree are needed to protect and manage water and country, including legislative protections for river and floodplain areas from the impacts of unconventional gas mining (coal seam, tight and shale) and the establishment of a Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner water council.

Mithaka Traditional Owner George Gorringe said “For many years governments have been making decisions about the way to manage the rivers, floodplains and groundwater of the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin. Aboriginal people need to be in the driver’s seat of these decisions.”

“With the disasters unfolding in the neighbouring Murray-Darling basin, it has never been more important to stand together and advocate for our rights and responsibilities to protect and care for our country.”

Dieri Traditional Owner, Shane Kemp said the declaration articulates our vision for our country and aims to address concerns of Traditional Owners regarding extensive development proposals currently facing the basin.

“We know that there are pressures from industry and governments to access and use the rivers, groundwater and intensify development on floodplains of the region. These pressures have the ability to impact on the cultural and natural values of our country” he said.

“The Lake Eyre Basin is one interconnected living system. Unlike many others in the world, our rivers are in good health and remain without major dams, flow diversions, or major floodplain developments. These rivers give life to the dry heart of Australia, and we are determined to protect them for current and future generations.”

Mr Kemp said the declaration demonstrates that the rights of Traditional Owners are central to the ongoing management and protection of the entire Lake Eyre Basin.

“We respect each other’s autonomy and aspirations, but we are also committed to working together to better manage and look after the basin” he said.

Boonthamurra Traditional Owner, Mark Wallace said our declaration sends a clear message to government and industry that Traditional Owners are prepared to stand together for the future of this globally unique system.

“We want the entire basin to be protected and managed as one living system and we will work together to make sure there are strong measures in place that achieve this goal.

“We invite industry, government, and other stakeholders to work with us in achieving this outcome” said Mr Wallace.

The declaration, endorsed by Traditional Owners of the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin, is attached.

For further information or interviews, please contact Fiona Maxwell 0450035809

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