Virginia Marshall masterclass: overturning aqua nullius - securing aboriginal water rights

artwork from book cover

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 05 April 2017


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Virginia Marshall


+61 (0)2 6125 3948

In chapter 10 of her book, Overturning aqua nullius: Securing Aboriginal Water Rights (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2017), Virginia Marshall writes:

“The Howard Federal Government’s national review of water management unequivocally altered Australian water policy and the legislative framework for water management by separating water from the land; water rights could be temporarily or permanently transferred or traded to other parties or entities, and could be mortgaged to secure economic benefits”

Chapter 10 examines the treatment of Aboriginal water rights and interests in policy development and the extent to which Aboriginal cultural customs and practices are considered in the management of water resources under Australian law. It also analyses the position of Aboriginal water rights and interests within the hierarchy of other water interests, and considers whether Aboriginal cultural, customary practices and economic needs in water are sufficiently considered in water policy development and effectively incorporated into Australian law. Virginia argues that the primary focus of water use and water management in Australia is the economic prosperity of a small group of stakeholders and governments.

In this masterclass, Virginia will explore and discuss these issues and the challenges that face Indigenous peoples of Australia, governments and stakeholders in future water security and in sustaining future water quality.

Please register for this masterclass so we can send you further readings and to let Virginia know what you’d like covered in the masterclass.

Suggested Readings

  • Marshall V. Overturning aqua nullius: Securing Aboriginal water rights in Australia, (Canberra, Aboriginal Studies Press, 2017). Please register for possible access to chapter 10 of this book.

  • Marshall, V. ‘Deconstructing aqua nullius: Reclaiming aboriginal water rights and communal identity in Australia’, in Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 26, Sep/Oct 2016: 9-14. Download from ANU Library e-database here.

  • Marshall V, ‘The progress of Aboriginal water rights and interests in the Murray Darling-Basin in NSW: An essential element of culture’, in Australian Environment Review (newsletter), 2015: Volume 30 No 6-7, pp. 158-163, December 2015. Download from ANU Library e-database here.

  • Marshall V, ‘Negotiating indigenous access and benefit sharing agreements in genetic resources and scientific research’, in Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 8, Sept/Oct 2013: 14-18. Download from ANU Library e-database here.

  • Marshall, V; Janke, T and Watson, A, ‘Community Economic Developments In Patenting Traditional Knowledge: a Case Study of the Mudjala TK Project in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia’, in Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 6, May/June 2013: 17-21. Download from ANU Library e-database here.

About the Speaker

Dr Virginia Marshall is principal solicitor/director with Triple BL Legal in rural Southern Highlands, and active committee member with the NSW Law Society, as Acting Chair the Indigenous Issues Committee. She has served on the Human Rights, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Law Practice and Litigation Committees. She is the Chair of the Diversity Committee and Executive Member of the NSW Women’s Lawyers Association.

Virginia represents her legal firm as Partner Investigator with an ARC Linkage Grant Project (2016-2019) to advance the protection of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge. She is proud of her Indigenous heritage and has extensive practice and knowledge in Indigenous affairs. She is recognised as Australia’s leading academic scholar in Aboriginal water rights/law and her award winning book was launched in 2017 by the Hon. Michael Kirby. Her passion is in addressing issues of social justice, human rights and law.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet