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On Tuesday 30 January 2018, 7pm local time (Wednesday 31 Jan, 2pm AEST), Virginia Marshall will be awarded the Distinguished Women Scholars Award and present the Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture at the University of Victoria in Canada.
In 2017, Dr Marshall became the first scholar to be appointed under the ANU Indigenous Australian Postdoctoral Fellowships Program. Dr Marshall is an Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow with the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society.
Dr Marshall is Australia’s leading legal scholar on Aboriginal water rights and interests. She is a lawyer with a strong focus in pro bono work for Indigenous communities across Australia.
Dr Marshall said:
“Recognition by the University of Victoria, Canada of my research on Aboriginal water property rights and interests in Australia resonates with Indigenous peoples around the world. Indigenous peoples have always known that water is more than a utility, it is a fact that water is inseparable from land, and both are sacred.”
For the Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture, she will present: ‘Overturning aqua nullius in Australia: Honouring ‘our Belonging’ to the land and waters’:
The First Peoples on the continent now called Australia, observed the cyclical seasonal conditions, named them in their language, and prepared for the changing cycles from severe drought to raging floods. Indigenous traditional knowledge of the ‘web of relationships’ was regulated by the Indigenous rule of law(s).
However, the intimate knowledge of the Aboriginal environment gained over thousands of generations is being virtually ignored. This presentation will explore the establishment of culturally appropriate mechanisms and ethical benchmarks to prioritise Indigenous water rights and interests.
The Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture was established by the Vice-President Academic and Provost of the University of Victoria, Canada, to highlight and honour outstanding research achievements by women scholars and present their scholarly work with a public lecture.
Dr Marshall’s work in this field has been published as a ground-breaking Aboriginal water rights book titled 'Overturning aqua nullius: Securing Aboriginal water rights'. Drawing on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Marshall argues that the reservation of Aboriginal water rights needs to be prioritised above the water rights and interests of other groups. It is only then that we can sweep away the injustice of aqua nullius and provide the first Australians with full recognition and status of their water rights and interests.