The CapeYork Water Forum was held in conjunction with the Apudthama Cape York Indigenous Rangers Conference.

The aims of the forum:

  • Seek input from Traditional Owners into water policy issues, Indigenous rights to water, water quality, water allocation and associated land and sea management interests involving research and livelihoods
  • Create an opportunity for Traditional Owners in the region to share their knowledge and identify future directions relating to national water reform issues in northern Australia, and in particular, Cape York.

The Forum was jointly hosted by the Apudthama Land Trust, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and NAILSMA, and supported by the North Peninsula Agency Regional Council.

Earlier this year the Indigenous Water Policy Group (IWPG) convened a Strategic Indigenous Reserve* (SIR) Steering Group to discuss broad policy development of Indigenous water allocations in north Australian water plans. The Steering Group is made up of prominent Indigenous leaders from north Australia and leading water and legal research advisors.

The development of the SIR Steering Group was a pragmatic response to water reform and members are to consider the  economic opportunity of an SIR  developing water plans in north Australia.

The NAILSMA Water Policy Statement states: Any water plan in tropical Australia must, irrespective of historical allocation, include an equitable Indigenous allocation from the consumptive pool for commercial purposes.

*NOTE –A Strategic Indigenous Reserve (SIR) provides an amount of water to Indigenous groups in a plan area for economic development on country. More Information: