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Indigenous people play a vital role in managing water resources and must be engaged in water allocation planning to capitalise on future economic development opportunities and to protect environmental and cultural values for generations to come. These were the messages conveyed by Traditional Owners within the Oolloo Water Allocation Plan Area at the closing of the Oolloo Indigenous Water Forum on 18 October 2011.
Wagiman Traditional Owner, Mona Liddy, said it is important that the Northern Territory (NT) Government continues to consult Traditional Owners on decisions regarding water planning and management. 'It is comforting to see the NT Government here today listening to the concerns we have about water in the Oolloo aquifer. It is crucial that the NT Government continues to listen to Traditional Owners and ensure that our interests and concerns are addressed in the Draft Oolloo Water Allocation Plan.'
The North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) and Northern Land Council (NLC) hosted the Oolloo Indigenous Water Forum in October 2011 in the Douglas-Daly region. The forum included a closed meeting for Traditional Owners from Wagiman, Wardaman, Larbagunyan and Dagoman language groups and key Indigenous leaders and an open meeting for key NT Government representatives, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) and Daly River Management Advisory Committee (DRMAC) who were invited to join the discussion and inform Traditional Owners about the Oolloo Water Allocation Planning process.
Joe Morrison, NAILSMA CEO said 'This is an opportunity for Traditional Owners in the plan area to ensure that future generations have an opportunity to benefit from a Strategic Indigenous Reserve. For the first time since planning commenced, Indigenous people in this area are communicating their important role in the management of an important part of north Australia's water resources.'