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Water Justice in Australia and The Pacific

13 October 2023 • 9:00 am – 2:00 pm AEDT

In partnership with Minority Rights Group International, Western Sydney University are delighted to host the Australian launch of Focus on Water – Minority and Indigenous Trends 2023 Report

The Report features 32 country-specific case studies and contributions from many Indigenous knowledge keepers and minority group activists as well as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Water.

This event includes keynote addresses by Nyikina Warrwa Elder Professor Anne Poelina and Mr. Sandy Sur (Ni-Vanuatu) who discuss their contributions to the report in the Australia and in The Pacific contexts. The event includes a Darug Yarning as well as a Yarning with D’harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledge Holders Circle. The event concludes with an open conversation about water justice and rights globally, with researchers, students, Traditional Owners and Custodians, and partners across Western Sydney and beyond.

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is an NGO based in London, Budapest, and Kampala. Their international report launched in 2023 highlights that cases filed in international courts for climate and water related disasters have become a major trend during 2023. Leading this movement are communities in Australia and the Pacific Island States living at the frontline of the climate and water crisis. The report concludes that the need for a human rights-based approach to water policy and governance is urgent as minority and Indigenous rights to water are being neglected in countries and territories around the world in favour of short-term economic and political gain. The report showcases how Indigenous communities offer traditional systems of water conservancy that have been utilised for hundreds or thousands of years without a negative impact on the environment, and must be included in state and federal law, governance, and policy. How Indigenous communities are leading the way in terms of community organisation and water governance, drawing on forms of leadership, social organisation and biocultural value systems that respect water. And finally, how Indigenous Peoples and minority groups are leading the way in terms of advancing international water justice.

Western Sydney University’s commitment to sustainable development, assessed through its contribution to the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was recognised by the new Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Ranking ranked 1st overall in the world in 2022 and 2023. This also includes 2nd in the world for SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation. Western Sydney University is determined to mobilise the means required to implement its Sustainability and Resilience Decadal Strategy through revitalised partnerships, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity.

Date and time

Fri, 13 Oct 2023 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM AEDT


Western Sydney University Parramatta City Campus Level 6 Room 21- 1PSQ169 Macquarie Street Parramatta, NSW 2150 Australia


09:30 Welcome to Country

09:40 Opening remarks by Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, Director of Indigenous Research, Western Sydney University

09:50 Introduction to Minority and Indigenous Trends 2023 – Focus on water Report (Zoom) Nicolás Salazar, Commissioning Editor, Minority Rights Group

10:00 Keynote Address: Professor Anne Poelina, Nulungu Institute, University of Notre Dame Australia

10:40 Darug Yarning: Parramatta, Hawkesbury, and Nepean Rivers

11:10 Break

11:30 Keynote Address Sandy Sur, Leweton Cultural Experience, Vanuatu

12:00 Yarning D’harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledge Holders Circle

12:30 Open Conversation, Responses and Q&A.

13:00 Concluding remarks Professor Juan Francisco Salazar, Western Sydney University

13:05 Lunch & Video showcase 11 Stories from the Dyarubbin River

14:00 End

Image: Nyikina Man Nelson follows the River to its source on Ngarinyin Country. Manning Creek, Ngarinyin Country. Credit: Lachie Carracher.