Risk assessment is a fundamental process that underpins natural resources management. Based on the AS/NZS ISO31000:2009, the South Australian Department for Environment and Water's (DEW) water resource risk assessment focusses on western concepts of natural resource management: economic production and environmental conservation. This western framework fails to engage with Indigenous worldviews that focus on reproduction and interconnected benefit and give effect to Indigenous values and interests.
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan requires Basin states to consider Aboriginal cultural values in water resource risk assessment, further highlighting a significant policy gap for DEW and other jurisdictions with possible implications for the accreditation of South Australia’s water resource plans.
Over the past 15 years, Ngarrindjeri have emerged as a leading Indigenous Nation in relation to Indigenous engagement in water resource management and were awarding the Australian Riverprize in 2015. Recent Ngarrindjeri collaborations with Flinders University have supported the emergence of the Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi Assessment process that enables assessments of environmental and water health, based on Ngarrindjeri principles and philosophies.
Flinders University, DEW and the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority are partnering in this project that seeks to translate Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi assessments into water resource risk assessments. The project will seek to articulate the points of connection between the two processes and inform the necessary adaptations required to DEW’s current water risk assessment conceptual models to integrate Aboriginal cultural values. The outcomes of this project may have application across all aspects of natural resources management improving the recognition of Aboriginal values and interests.
The project has four research tasks, which include:
This project has been informed by previous Goyder research projects (each partnerships between the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and Flinders University):
The project also builds on partnerships between DEW, NRA and Flinders University through the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Ngarrindjeri Partnerships Project.