Right now, the Australian Government is deciding the fate of the Murray-Darling. It could mean a lifeline for wetlands and wildlife ahead of the next drought – but only if they deliver the water that was promised.
If we want thriving wetlands, healthy communities and water justice for First Nations, we need to raise our voices and stand by our rivers. Add your photo and story and we’ll deliver it to politicians in Canberra.
The Murray-Darling is a mighty system of rivers, lakes and wetlands. From the source to the sea, it covers a large part of south-eastern Australia.
More than 2 million people rely on water in the Murray-Darling, including more than 40 First Nations. Hundreds of Australian native animals – fish, frogs and water birds – depend on regular flows to floodplains and wetlands for their survival.
But after years of mismanagement, the Murray-Darling is sick. In the last decade we’ve seen dry riverbeds, toxic algae blooms and massive fish kills.
While the river system is complex, the core problem is simple – too much water is being taken from the river. Big corporates have been allowed to dominate the water market. It’s left rivers and communities high and dry, while First Nations still have little rights over their lands and water, despite decades of promises.
Big decisions on the Murray-Darling Basin are being made right now. The Albanese government made an election promise to deliver water to rivers, address problems in the water market, increase First Nations ownership of water, and account for climate change.
Now they’ve made a new deal that will go to a vote in Australian Parliament this year.
These next few months will be crucial. We need to make our voices heard so we have the strongest possible plan. One that actually delivers real water to rivers and First Nations ahead of the next drought, when it will be needed most.
The Murray-Darling Conservation Alliance is a national voice for the rivers, wetlands and wildlife of the Murray-Darling. Members include conservation groups in every Basin state – NSW, Vic, SA and QLD – representing half a million people in rural communities and east-coast cities. Each group has been advocating for the environment at a state level for more than 50 years. Together we have a shared vision for healthy inland rivers.
Our offices are located across south-eastern Australia, and we work across many Aboriginal nations. We recognise both water and land were stolen from First Nations people and sovereignty was never ceded. Over-extraction and water markets have doubled down on this dispossession – further damaging Country, disempowering Traditional Owners in water management and denying their share of wealth made from their land. Until we address this history, any pursuit of reconciliation will remain out of reach. Recognising self-determination means returning water to support cultural traditions and community development. We need to make sure First Nations have a say over how rivers and Country are managed.
Authorised by Jono La Nauze, CEO Environment Victoria, 60 Leicester Street Carlton 3053.