New Fact Sheet: Translating Yannarumi into Water Resource Risk Assessments

Ground-breaking research has translated the Ngarrindjeri approach to risk assessment called “Yannarumi” and connecting it to existing South Australian water resource risk assessments. The research has facilitated collaboration between the Ngarrindjeri nation and the State government of South Australia leading to a greater ability to integrate First Nations values and interests into water planning and management. The research team have developed a short Fact Sheet to disseminate the project, which can be found on our website. 

The project team developed and tested a methodology that enabled the translation of Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi decision making and assessment methodologies into existing water resource planning risk assessments. It communicated the points of connection between the Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi assessment process and the South Australian Department for Environment’s Risk Management Framework for Water Planning and Management, proposing changes to include a new multi-layered category of ‘Risk to First Nations’. Crucially this category considers the relationship between First Nations and non-Indigenous governments. 

This is intended to inform future adaptations to the risk management framework and associated practices to support the integration of Indigenous values and interests. It has extended and intensified a working relationship between non-Indigenous water planners and NRM risk assessors, and Ngarrindjeri leaders and water specialists. 

A First Nations Engagement Guideline was also developed, supporting the implementation of the modified risk management framework. Professor Daryle Rigney, co-author of the report highlighted that “this Guideline has value in broader Indigenous nation and government interactions in NRM and across other sectors”. 

Research team (L to R): Grant Rigney, Amy Della-Sale, Steve Hemming, Lachlan Sutherland, Hugh Wilson, Noëlle Overdevest, and Daryle Rigney.

The project was led by researchers Associate Professor Steve Hemming and Professor Daryle Rigney and included several staff from the South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW). The project was commissioned by the South Australian Government in 2018 as a direct response to the Commonwealth Murray-Darling Basin Plan (2012) requirement that Basin states, including South Australia, must meaningfully engage First Nations in the development of Water Resource Plans (WRPs). It has resulted in a significant step towards greater inclusion of indigenous knowledge in water resource management in Australia and even internationally.

The full results of the research project ‘Translating Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi into water resource risk assessments’ are available on the Goyder Institute website. For more information, contact the Goyder Institute for Water Research through

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