Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority

The First Nations of the northern Murray-Darling Basin first came together as the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) in 2009, united by a common vision of “Keeping Our Water Spirits and Our Connections Alive”. Murray-Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), NBAN’s sister organisation in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, was formed 11 years earlier. Together, these two organisations represent the 46 First Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin. First Nations people are connected by bloodlines to their ancestral lands and waters, and have obligations under their law and lore, and through their cultural customs, to care for their Country.

NBAN logo

Shortly after NBAN was registered as a company, NBAN Delegates voted to include Fiona Bates’ “Maker of All Water Ways” artwork  as the centrepiece of NBAN’s logo.

Echuca Declaration

At a joint Gathering on the 19th of May 2010, NBAN and MLDRIN Delegates adopted the Echuca Declaration.

The Echuca Declaration recognises and reaffirms “that each of the [First] Nations represented within the [Murray-Darling Basin] is and has been since time immemorial sovereign over its own lands and waters and that the people of each [First] Nation obtain and maintain their spiritual and cultural identity, life and livelihood from their lands and waters; and that the [First] Nations of the [Murray-Darling Basin] have never given up our sovereignty over our Country and it is our Country that has always given us everything.”

Sovereignty & Self-Determination

On the 10th of May 2017, First Nations of the northern Murray-Darling Basin came together at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, to sign a Treaty (Union of Sovereign First Nations of the northern Murray-Darling Basin).

Further, each signatory Nation agreed to assert its sovereign and inherent right to be self-determining, in accordance with jus cogens, which preserves and guarantees this right. The Union recognises each Nation’s law and lore, and all known international and accepted legal norms of the United Nations:

1. Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States;
2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
4. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);
5. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
6. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); and
7. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as set out in the UNDRIP and the CBD.

In 2009, the Australian federal government formally supported the UNDRIP. Articles 18 and 19 of the UNDRIP state that:

“[First Nations] people have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own [First Nation] decision-making institutions.

“States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the [First Nations] people, concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

Further, Article 20 (1.) declares that:

“[First Nations] people have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.”

NBAN acts as the administrative arm of the Union of Sovereign First Nations of the northern Murray-Darling Basin.

NBAN’s Honour Roll

NBAN’s Honour Roll commemorates First Nation and non-First Nation people who have dedicated themselves to improving the cultural, environmental, social and economic conditions of First Nation peoples in the Murray-Darling Basin. Their tireless efforts have been recognised by NBAN’s membership.

Sam Bonner (Githabul)

Aunty Ethylene Bonner (Githabul)

Sister Karen Riley (Barkandji) – rest in peace

Aunty Grace Weatherall (Guwamu (Kooma)) – rest in peace

Uncle William Riley (Malangapa) – rest in peace

Uncle William Bates (Malangapa) – rest in peace

Aunty Delphine Mailman (Bidjara) – rest in peace

Cheryl Buchanan (Guwamu (Kooma))

Neil Ward (MDBA)