Developing consistent legal and institutional frameworks for incorporating Indigenous water rights into Australian federal and state laws

My research is aimed at identifying and critically analysing international water rights regimes, in order to develop an Australian legal framework for Indigenous water rights in economic, cultural and tenure-based water use.

My research undertakes an international comparative analysis of nation states which have competing water use regimes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous water users and examines existing water regulatory and governance frameworks which impede the exercise and enjoyment of Indigenous water rights and interests.

The aim is to respond to the future challenges of water scarcity for Indigenous communities in Australia, to provide avenues to address the gap in Aboriginal health and wealth status through a water rights paradigm and to bring ethical benchmarks and human rights principles to bear in the national dialogue on Aboriginal water rights.

About the speaker

Dr Virginia Marshall is Wiradjhuri Nyemba, winner of the WEH Stanner Award for her doctoral thesis on national law reform with Aboriginal water rights and interests in Australia. Her book “Overturning aqua nullius” published by AIATSIS in February 2017, and launched by the Hon. Michael Kirby, in the preface acknowledged, “Dr Marshall’s book will influence the future of water rights as they affect Aboriginal and other Indigenous peoples in Australia”.

Virginia is Principal Solicitor in Triple BL Legal, and Partner Investigator with an ARC Linkage Grant Project “Garuwanga” to establish a national model for a National Cultural Authority to protect Indigenous peoples knowledge systems.

Virginia has recently presented her research for the National Indigenous Research Conference (Canberra), the National Native Title Conference (Townsville) and the School of Regulation and Global Governance (ANU).