Consultation and webinars

The following frequently asked questions are in regards to consultation and webinars.

Consultation

Who has the department consulted with to date?

The NSW Government has been consulting on an ongoing basis in recent years about:

  • water sharing plans
  • water resource plans
  • metering reforms
  • floodplain harvesting
  • environmental water management
  • drought responses.

Through those processes, we have heard many ideas about how to be better prepared for future droughts and floods, and a more variable climate.

We are also talking with local councils, joint organisations, local water utilities, Aboriginal peak bodies and Aboriginal community groups about regional water strategies. These discussions have informed the preparation of the draft regional water strategies and the identification and development of options for each region.

An extensive engagement program supports the regional water strategies, with four phases planned for the development of each strategy:

  1. initial discussions with Aboriginal peak groups as well as councils, local water utilities, joint organisations and Aboriginal communities in each region, as well as briefing of statewide peak groups
  2. public exhibition of the draft regional water strategy
  3. further targeted engagement with Aboriginal peak bodies, councils, local water utilities and joint organisations and Aboriginal communities in each region
  4. public release of the final regional water strategy.

We have included descriptions of targeted engagement activities within each region and the ideas, concerns and issues raised during this consultation in each draft regional water strategy.

Where possible, we have linked our engagement program to other engagement activities being undertaken by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment e.g. Healthy Floodplains.

How have Aboriginal communities been consulted?

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment recognises that our engagement with Aboriginal people and communities on water issues has not been adequate in the past. To change this, we are starting a new partnership approach for the development and implementation of the regional water strategies.

We have been working with an Aboriginal water advisory group – the Aboriginal Water Coalition – to provide advice during development of the strategies. The group has representatives from peak Aboriginal organisations including:

  • the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)
  • Native Title Services Corporation (NTSCORP)
  • Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN)
  • Murray Lower Darling River Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN)
  • along with representatives from Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

We are also building on our prior work with Aboriginal communities. For example, Basin Aboriginal nations have expressed their aspirations through the First Nations engagement process for the water resource plans.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected community consultation for the program?

Our engagement approach has been adapted to reflect the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions as set out by the Australian Government from March 2020. We have changed how we will engage with our stakeholders and communities by replacing face-to-face consultation with virtual, online and contactless methods.

In each region we will be providing:

  • a limited amount of ‘on ground’ meetings, with COVID-19 safety measures in place
  • webinars
  • one-on-one phone calls including a survey
  • ‘Have your say website’, including collecting public submissions
  • ‘What We Heard’ reports and submission summaries.

We have been advised by the Aboriginal Water coalition that face-to-face engagement with Aboriginal people is preferable and, in light of COVID-19, we should pause our engagement until restrictions ease. All planned face-to-face meetings with Aboriginal communities in the Gwydir, Macquarie–Castlereagh and Lachlan regions occurred before COVID-19 restrictions, enabling these documents to proceed to public exhibition.

We will continue to work with the Aboriginal Water coalition to plan engagement across all the regions.

The COVID-19 engagement approach will be reviewed when the Australian Government provides more details regarding the lifting of restrictions.

Webinars

What is the difference between each webinar? Which one(s) should I attend?

There are two live webinars you may like to participate in for each of the priority regions.

In the first live webinar, we will explain:

  • what regional water strategies are
  • how they have been developed
  • how they relate to water sharing plans and water resource plans.

We will share with you the draft long-list of options that has been developed to help address region specific challenges and opportunities. We will also reveal some results from our new climate modelling process, and advise how you can have your say.

In the second live webinar, we will explain the climate data modelling process and the findings, before examining the draft long-list of options in detail. We will reiterate how you can have your say.

During both webinars, there will be time for questions. You may choose which webinar(s) you wish to register for, depending on your interest.

Before attending the regional specific webinars, we recommend you watch our pre-recorded video, which provides an overview of the regional water strategies.

I can’t attend the webinars at the times promoted. Can I watch them at another time?

Yes. All webinars will be recorded and available on the website to view at a later time.

Do I need to register for a webinar?

If you are planning to attend a live webinar, you will need to register. Visit INSERT LINK for more information

I’m having technical issues and can’t access the webinars. Can someone help me?

Yes. Please call Redback Conferencing on 1800 733 416.