Closing the Gap – Inland Waters Target Framework

Development of an Inland Waters Target Framework 

During 2021 and 2022 the NNTC’s work on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was mainly focused on economic development matters.  In particular, the NTTC worked with other Coalition of Peaks members to develop an inland waters target framework, as this target had not been finalised when the National Agreement was signed in July 2020.  

The inland waters target framework developed by the Coalition of Peaks is that over the next 10 years the level of ownership of water access entitlements in inland waters by First Nations organisations should increase to a level that reflects population parity at a national level. The target would be for First Nations organisations to own 3% of the national water access entitlements, which would be a very significant increase, as the level of ownership is currently extremely low, being less than 0.2%.   

This 3% target was supported by State and Territory Governments in August 2021, but the Commonwealth Government’s view was that there was insufficient data to establish an accurate baseline from which progress could be measured.  The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment subsequently engaged a consultant to obtain the relevant data from the States and Territories to establish a baseline of current First Nations organisations’ ownership of water access entitlements. 

An inland waters baselining statistical report was developed and circulated for consideration by governments and the Coalition of Peaks in 2022.  It is expected that this report will be subject to expert peer review before the baseline and target framework are settled for consideration and final endorsement by the Joint Council for Closing the Gap in 2023.