Reconnecting River Country

Community Led Feedback Project

Reconnecting River Country

Community Led Feedback Project

Capacity to Deliver

The issue

WMLIG, with support from NSW's RRCP, gathered community feedback on removing water flow barriers in the Murray-Darling Basin. They held 7 events, produced a detailed report, and identified 130+ constraints. RRCP aims to address these issues after a failed decade-old program. Local organisations facilitated community input on water flow, impacts, mitigation, negotiations, and environmental assessment. They used networks and expertise to influence water policy within a tight budget and timeframe.

The solution

WMLIG designed a comprehensive engagement campaign involving its membership and supporter base, traditional and social media channels and partner and other stakeholder networks to promote a series of workshops, an online survey, meetings and conversations.

With Deniliquin-based ecologists Dan Hutton and Dr John Conallin, WMLIG hosted five workshops held across the 7500sq Murray inland delta. The workshops were developed to both inform and gauge a variety of feedback on the RRCP’s proposed flow options and modelled inundation maps. Notes on maps and GPS locations in surveys were transferred to geo-located points on an online map.

A working dinner in Moulamein was hosted to discuss and consolidate feedback on the Landholder Negotiation Framework and mitigation measures while on and offline surveys captured longer form commentary on the potential impacts of proposed flows.

A pre-briefing informed smaller community organisation’s representatives. A 72-page report consolidated findings and made recommendations towards gaining greater social licence for removing constraints and managing environmental assets.

The impact

The project resulted in a unique and successful contribution to a series of government initiatives aimed at improving environmental water management in the region. It was noted that the community-led feedback process was more effective than previous government-led forums. The report found that there is a wealth of knowledge, passion, and commitment in the community to address environmental issues related to river systems and wetlands. 

Participants highlighted the need for well-resourced and respected community-led engagement to access and utilise this knowledge, and there is a sense of urgency to break through the current status quo. The project led to a deeper understanding of the community's contributions to environmental solutions, which are closely tied to their social, cultural, and economic well-being. The report concludes that whether the RRCP leaders will act on the information and community recommendations remains uncertain and is a work in progress.

Key facts

  • This project was funded by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
  • 160 attendees at 7 workshops
  • 200 map based comments on proposed flow option impacts