Date / Time

1:00 pm 20/09/2021 -

2:30 pm 20/09/2021



The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) invite you to attend an online discussion on the topic of Water rights for First Nations people: Establishing a Cultural Flows model on Tati Tati Country.

Margooya Lagoon on Tati Tati Country in northern Victoria may become Australia’s first site of First Nations water rights delivery via a ‘cultural flows’ model, following the release of a report last week by Environmental Justice Australia in partnership with not-for-profit organisation Tati Tati Kaiejin – including incoming Life Course Centre and Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute Fellows Melissa Kennedy and Brendan Kennedy.

The report, titled Establishing a Cultural Flows model on Tati Tati Country, highlights the continuing deprivation of First Nations water rights and proposes legal, policy and governance options to address this through the delivery of cultural flows – First Nations-controlled rights underpinned by spiritual, cultural, environmental, social and economic connections. It builds on another recent report by the Melbourne Law School, Cultural Water for Cultural Economies, which links cultural flows to self-determination and cultural economic security.

Join us for an online discussion with Melissa Kennedy and Brendan Kennedy, Traditional Owners and Research Fellows at the Life Course Centre, together with Dr Bruce Lindsay, lead author of the Margooya Lagoon report at Environmental Justice Australia, and Dr Erin O’Donnell, lead author of the Melbourne Law School report. The discussion will be moderated by Dr Sangeetha Chandrashekeran, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and Senior Research Fellow at the Life Course Centre.


Brendan Kennedy (Tati Tati) is a Traditional Owner with deep knowledge and extensive work experience in the areas of Indigenous culture, language, art, science and advocacy. He is currently a Tati Tati delegate and Deputy Chair of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), and recently joined the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) at the University of Melbourne as Enterprise Principal Fellow in Cultural Economies and Sustainability.

Dr Bruce Lindsay is a Senior Lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), where he has worked in law reform and litigation since 2012. He has written on a wide range of topics ranging from water law, planning and biodiversity, ecological restoration, climate change, urban rivers, and environmental democracy. Bruce contributed to the National Cultural Flows Research Project in 2017-18 and he has worked closely with many community, NGO and First Nations organisations with a focus on policy and environmental law reform agenda. He presently leads the ecosystems team at EJA.

Melissa Kennedy (Tati Tati) is the co-founder and CEO of Tati Tati Kaiejin, a grass-roots Indigenous owned and operated not-for-profit organisation aiming to reconnect First Nations people to waterways and Country. Melissa recently joined the University of Melbourne in the Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, where she will contribute to research to better understand the relationship between water and Indigenous wellbeing, to empower local Indigenous stakeholders and enable policy change.

Dr Erin O’Donnell is a water law and policy specialist in the Melbourne Law School, focusing on water markets, environmental flows, and water governance. Erin is recognised internationally for her research into the groundbreaking new field of legal rights for rivers, and the challenges and opportunities these rights create for protecting the multiple social, cultural and natural values of rivers. Her work is informed by comparative analysis across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, India, Colombia, and Chile. In 2018, Erin was appointed to the inaugural Birrarung Council, the voice of the Yarra River.

Dr Sangeetha Chandrashekeran is the Deputy Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne, and Senior Research Fellow of the Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. She is an economic geographer with a focus on the political economic dimensions of environmental change.

More information and registration here.