The Queensland Government and the Darumbal People Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC – the Traditional Custodians of the land at the Rookwood Weir site, Queensland’s largest water infrastructure project – have signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement that is expected to deliver benefits to the Darumbal People for generations to come. 

“The negotiations between the parties have been respectful and have helped to build a better understanding of the cultural values of the Darumbal People,” commented Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, The Honourable Glenn Butcher. “This has been demonstrated with the range of benefits provided under the agreement that target the long-term goals and aspirations of the Traditional Owners.

“Of particular interest is that this agreement will provide the Traditional Custodians with a water allocation from Rookwood Weir in perpetuity, once it is completed mid next year.” 

Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke said the Darumbal People Aboriginal Corporation intends to seek a lease agreement with any interested water user in the area: “They will then be able to use this ongoing revenue stream to support local programs, while the water allocation agreement is in place.”

A spokesperson for the Darumbal People said: “Our people have a strong continuous connection to country but recognise the need for progress while protecting our culture that has been a part of our history for thousands of years.

“This ongoing revenue means we can help sustain our investments in things like our Darumbal language education programs, to ensure our language continues to be passed down from generation to generation and shared with the wider community through local schools.”

The State’s proponent for the Rookwood Weir project, Sunwater, was represented at the co-signing event by Chief Executive Officer Glenn Stockton.

“Sunwater is proud to be working on a project that is providing benefits for Central Queensland, including for the Darumbal people,” he said. “We are pleased the project will continue to deliver employment and environmental management opportunities for the Traditional Owners during construction and beyond.”

Local indigenous land management organisation Tunuba has already assisted the project with environmental management activities like fauna spotting during the weir’s construction and Sunwater has identified opportunities for further work during the rest of the construction and the early years of the weir’s operations.

An Indigenous land use agreement is a voluntary agreement entered into by the Traditional Custodians and the Queensland Government and gives certainty around the anticipated footprint of the Rookwood Weir Project on Darumbal Country and offers a range of benefits to compensate and mitigate for any footprint impacts.

With the Indigenous land use agreement now signed, the agreement will be soon lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal for registration prior to taking effect as a legally binding contract.

Rookwood Weir is a landmark project that will capture valuable water in the lower Fitzroy River for use across the region. The project comprises of two key components: 1) constructing the weir; 2) enabling works that will upgrade existing infrastructure to support both the construction of the weir and its operation.

Rookwood Weir proposed 3D plan. Courtesy of Sunwater