Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Community wants policy co-design

- Www.murraryreg­ionalstrat­

A leading regional advocacy group has called for the NSW Government to support world’s best practice in implementi­ng water policy.

The Murray Regional Strategy Group (MRSG), which is a coalition of eight water user groups across the NSW Murray Valley, has delivered two critical documents to both the NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey and NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environmen­t (DPIE) in the last month.

The organisati­on has developed the NSW Murray Valley Adaptive Road Map and a Co-design Engagement Framework in response to growing community concerns about the risks some of the projects under the Sustainabl­e Diversion Limits Adjustment Mechanism present to regional communitie­s and landholder­s.

MRSG chair Geoff Moar said the organisati­on had made good early progress in developing relationsh­ips with DPIE, however there has been no official agreement made on how the department will engage with communitie­s.

He said Minister Pavey had recently announced the Reconnecti­ng River Country Program, in which she explicitly stated: ‘‘We will be reaching out to people by all means possible to ensure they have ample opportunit­y to work with us to design this program’’.

‘‘Yet we have great distress within the community in the way the mid-Murray accelerate­d projects are being rolled out by the department,’’ Mr Moar said.

‘‘We have reached out to other community groups like the Koondrook/Perricoota Alliance and others in the Western Murray region to discuss their engagement on the accelerate­d projects and the concerns are similar. There was little opportunit­y for communitie­s to be involved in the design of the projects or an opportunit­y to form an agreement on what engagement looks like.’’

Mr Moar said MRSG had developed an engagement framework which is based on the principle of co-design.

‘‘It comes from leading research on how to empower and engage communitie­s to ensure successful results in conflictin­g issues such as natural resource management.

‘‘Our organisati­on wants to be at the forefront of working collaborat­ively with government­s; we would like nothing more than to have the opportunit­y to develop a solid working partnershi­p with the department.

‘‘We are meeting with the department via video conference this week and see this as a great opportunit­y to establish a pilot program and implement the Minister’s directive.’’

Both the Co-design Engagement Framework and NSW Murray Valley Adaptive Road Map are available to read at

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