Indigenous water rights in Australia

Robert Poirier, Doris Schartmueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Indigenous rights in Australia have undergone enormous transition since the groundbreaking decision in Mabo vs. Queensland in the Australian High Court. This paper explores these changes with a particular emphasis on Aboriginal water rights-an important, and more complicated, corollary to land rights. Mabo opened many possibilities that Aboriginals could claim water rights for everything from irrigation to fishing and spiritual uses. Since 2000 claims of this nature have been made in the federal court system and have challenged the total scope of water law on this the driest inhabited continent on earth. Water law in Australia is primarily a function of state government and these policies have had differential impact on Aboriginal rights which will be explored in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-324
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Australia
  • Indigenous rights
  • Mabo decision
  • Water use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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